“When you fall like that and you feel the pain like that, you get nervous,” Martinez said of the 27-year-old Taylor. “The MRI kind of calmed him down a little bit. He’s got to rehab and get ready.”
If Taylor’s not healthy by Opening Day, and it seems unlikely he will be, the Nationals’ outfield gets very thin. On Friday, the morning after Taylor hurt himself in Fort Myers, Martinez admitted there is “no outfield depth” without him. Taylor figured to be Washington’s fourth outfielder and, before the sprains, was battling with Victor Robles to the everyday center fielder. Without him, Andrew Stevenson is the next option for a reserve outfielder who can also play center. The trickle-down effect could force Wilmer Difo into that spot, if only when in-game moves create a hole there, and shift first baseman Matt Adams or infielder Adrian Sanchez to left.
Howie Kendrick, a 35-year-old utility player, is also working back from a mild hamstring strain. He can play the corner outfield spots when healthy. His absence compounds the Nationals’ outfield issues with the season less than two weeks away. Kendrick has been jogging at the Nationals’ facility and, on March 9, Martinez projected he could start sprinting in 10-12 days.
When Martinez was pressed Saturday on how long Taylor could be out, he said, “When it comes to injuries there is really no timetable.” Martinez added, “I’m kind of optimistic, he’s a strong kid, so hopefully once he is pain-free he can start rehabbing right away.” And he finished with, “Who knows?”
“It’s a good sign, but it’s a progression. We’ll see how he comes back and feels tomorrow,” Martinez said. “But for us that’s a good thing, that he’s feeling that good. We’ll see where it takes us in the next couple of days.”