DENVER — The Washington Nationals did not recall Jake Noll on Monday as a direct replacement for Anthony Rendon, even as Rendon continues to recover from a left elbow contusion.
They instead added the infielder and, in a corresponding move, sent reliever Austin Adams back to Class AAA Fresno, because the Nationals are still hopeful that Rendon can avoid the 10-day injured list. But until that decision is made — based on how his elbow progresses after it was hit by a 95-mph fastball Saturday night — Washington will only have 24 available players. Recalling Noll gives the Nationals at least a four-man bench, and not the three healthy reserves they had against the Miami Marlins on Sunday. It also thins their bullpen to seven pitchers, a typical number they stretched to eight earlier in April.
“[Rendon is] in the training room getting treatment,” Manager Dave Martinez said late Monday afternoon, ahead of the series opener against the Colorado Rockies. “He’s doing a little better. He can bend his arm back and forth, so that’s a good sign. He’s going to get treatment all day today, and we’re hoping that he could be available later on tonight [as a pinch hitter]. We’ll see.”
Martinez will otherwise assume he has Noll, catcher Kurt Suzuki, outfielder Michael A. Taylor and first baseman Matt Adams on his bench. Howie Kendrick is starting at third base Monday in place of Rendon for the second straight game. He is hitting fourth in the batting order, just as he did in a 5-0 win over the Marlins on Sunday.
Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson is facing Rockies left-hander Tyler Anderson. Without Adams, the Nationals’ bullpen now includes closer Sean Doolittle, Trevor Rosenthal, Kyle Barraclough, Matt Grace, Wander Suero, Tony Sipp and Joe Ross. Relievers Justin Miller (lower-back strain) and Austen Williams (sprained AC joint in his right shoulder) are on the injured list.
Noll rejoins the Nationals after breaking camp with them. He was a nonroster invitee to spring training, where he impressed — and surprised — Washington with his bat. He was taking groundballs at third base before Monday’s game. He also has experience playing first and second, but he probably would appear as a right-handed pinch hitter if the situation calls for one. Noll was hitting .189 in 53 at-bats with Fresno and had just moved into an apartment there Sunday. Then he got a call that he was needed in Denver, and the next phase of his improbable year began.
Coors Field could be a good place for him, because the dimensions and high altitude make it a hitter-friendly park. He visited Salt Lake City with the Grizzlies in April and liked the way the ball jumped off the bat. He has three major league at-bats and is still looking for his first hit. He did, however, have a walk-off walk on April 3 in his final at-bat before heading back to the minors.
“The ball flew [in Salt Lake City], so hopefully it’s the same here from what I’m hearing,” Noll said. “So, yeah, glad to be in Colorado.”
Adam Eaton, RF
Victor Robles, CF
Juan Soto, LF
Howie Kendrick, 3B
Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
Yan Gomes, C
Brian Dozier, 2B
Jeremy Hellickson, P
Wilmer Difo, SS
Charlie Blackmon, RF
David Dahl, LF
Nolan Arenado, 3B
Trevor Story, SS
Ryan McMahon, 2B
Mark Reynolds, 1B
Ian Desmond, CF
Tony Wolters, C
Tyler Anderson, P
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