Nationals fans will finally be able to see offseason pickups Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber as well as returning infielder Josh Harrison, as the trio has been officially reinstated from the injured list, the team announced Monday. The three players had been sidelined from participating in the Nats’ first six games due to a coronavirus outbreak in the clubhouse.
Also, the team announced infielder Luis García and outfielder Yadiel Hernandez have been optioned to the low-A affiliate Fredericksburg Nationals’ taxi squad. Jonathan Lucroy, who started the first few games of the season at catcher in place of Yan Gomes, has been designated for assignment.
Josh Bell, a 28-year-old first baseman, was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in Dec. 2020. Last season, Bell hit .226 with 44 hits and 22 RBIs in his final season in the Steel City. Reinstating Bell likely means Ryan Zimmerman will be relegated to a backup role. The Nationals signed Bell with the intention of keeping Zimmerman, 36, as a substitute infielder or pinch hitter. However, Zimmerman performed well in 21 at-bats so far this season: eight hits and two runs for a .381 average.
Josh Harrison will be returning for his second season in the nation’s capital after a long tenure in Pittsburgh and a short stint in Detroit. Washington signed Harrison in July 2020, and while he played second base in D.C., Harrison’s numbers improved greatly from his previous season: a .278 average as opposed to .175 the year before. García’s move to low-A will open up a spot for Harrison in the infield, where he could garner starts.
Finally, Kyle Schwarber will make his long-awaited debut in Nationals colors. Washington signed the outfielder to a one-year deal in early January after the 28-year-old made a big impact as a Chicago Cub the previous six seasons. The 2016 World Series champion will likely take Andrew Stevenson’s spot as a starting outfielder and will add veteran depth to an outfield that includes youngsters Juan Soto and Victor Robles.
The Nationals currently sit last in the NL East thanks to their 1-5 record. But for the first time in 2021, Washington finally has a fully healthy roster.