The Washington Nationals will be without two of their best players for the foreseeable future, as both Juan Soto and Stephen Strasburg were recently placed on the Injured List with respective shoulder issues.
The Nationals -- who won their first game without both stars on Tuesday, a 3-2 victory over the Cardinals -- must press on without Soto and Strasburg, but general manager Mike Rizzo did not seem too concerned about either injury.
"Juan's got a strain in his shoulder. We think that will heal, it will just take time but it will heal and he will be back to normal and we'll get our offense back on track," Rizzo said. "Stras doesn't feel too concerned about it, which makes me feel good. He knows his body."
Soto is not eligible to return before April 30, meaning he will miss six more games at the minimum. However, Rizzo believes Washington got out ahead regarding the 22-year-old's injury, which should limit the amount of time he's sidelined. Soto was initially in Washington's lineup on Tuesday before being pulled and placed on IL.
"We're certainly not going to make any rash decisions about keeping Juan Soto in the lineup when maybe he shouldn't when he takes a swing or a throw and something bad happens," Rizzo said. "We nipped this in the bud early and before it came really bad, so that's a good thing."
As far as Strasburg goes, the right-hander was placed on the 10-day Injured List retroactive to April 15. Although he is eligible to return in just a few days, Rizzo says the ace will need time to ramp up before he returns to action.
"With pitchers, as long as they are shut down, they have to ramp up," Rizzo said. "As long as he doesn't pitch is how long it's going to take when he does come back to pitch in the Big Leagues. It's often time-consuming."
Although Washington will be without Soto and Strasburg for now, the team did get good news this week as left-hander Jon Lester threw a 72-pitch simulated game on Tuesday.
For now, Rizzo said the plan is for him to throw a 90-pitch simulated game on Sunday and the team will re-evaluate how he feels after that. It appears that Lester is inching closer to making his Nationals debut, which comes at a much-needed time.
While the Nationals general manager was unable to give a timetable when either Soto or Strasburg will return to action, Rizzo is not concerned their either one of their injuries will be long-term or season-ending.
"We're not sure of a timetable on either guy but we don't think either of those injuries are long-term, season-ending or anything like that," Rizzo said. "We'll get those guys back. We just have to win games in their absence and opportunity knocks for some young players that want to show what they can do. That's what this game is all about."
For more interviews, tune into the Sports Junkies on NBC Sports Washington, weekdays from 6-10 a.m.