It was just Monday that Nationals manager Dusty Baker said reliever Sammy Solis was ahead of schedule in his rehab from left shoulder inflammation, that he would be ready to throw a bullpen session by the end of the week, defying the original expecation that he would throw the following week. But by Friday, that plan had changed, as Solis experienced a setback in his rehab.
"It was just bad inflammation in there. It got to the point that I had to say something," Solis said. "You push through and push through it, but it just got to the point where I couldn't throw without altering my mechanics and that's when bad things happen. I said something, I think early enough to where I'll be back pretty soon. Hopefully it's before the push we're going to make and we'll see what happens in the playoffs."
Baker referred to Solis' issue as a "roadblock," but remains optimistic the 28-year-old can be back sooner than later.
"I'm very hopeful. We can use him big-time because Sammy was lights-out. He was very good," Baker said.
Before landing on the disabled list on Aug. 17, Solis was enjoying a breakout year in the Nats' bullpen. Through 34 appearances this season, he has a 2.35 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings. He throws a mid-90s fastball, a sharp curveball and has an improving changeup. He can also pitch multiple innings as a lefty reliever, which comes in handy.
Did I mention he's a lefty?
"He gave us a different option from our specialist lefties. He can give us an inning and a fraction or two innings, even with right-handers up there. That kind of pitcher, especially a lefty, is very important," Baker said. "No matter the lineup, I don't have to flip-flop so many times with right-left, right-left. If you do that, you'll go through your whole bullpen. It's fine now, but in the postseason you're not going to have all these players available. That's why it's so important to have him back."
Solis knows the value he brings to the Nationals. They are okay now with lefty relievers Marc Rzepczynski, Sean Burnett and Matt Grace, but Solis adds an extra dimension.
He knows he can help the Nats right now and this setback wasn't an easy one to accept.
"It's tough to sit here on the sidelines and watch our team," he said. "We're still doing very well, but it's just tough to sit there and watch our team perform without being able to help. Especially, being a lefty, you can always use another one of those guys. It's kind of hurting me right now. I'm sitting here looking at these teams we're facing with six lefties in the lineup and I can't help out. I'm just anxious to get back and help the team win."
As for when that will be, neither Solis or the Nationals know exactly. But, like Baker, Solis is staying positive.
"All I know is that I'm feeling good. I'm progressing and working towards getting back," he said. "We're getting there. I can tell you that. We're getting there."
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