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Repeated injuries sink Koda Glover’s major-league career

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Repeated injuries sink Koda Glover’s major-league career

Monday, shortly before crowds gathered on the revamped D.C. waterfront to view a documentary about the Nationals’ march to the 2019 World Series title, Koda Glover was on social media thanking well-wishers following a difficult decision.

Glover, 26, announced his retirement from Major League Baseball with a Twitter post earlier in the day. He thanked his teammates, the organization, and his parents for helping him to arrive in the major leagues in 2016. The journey across the next three seasons became one of derailed potential. One injury led to another then another. Glover spent more time marooned in West Palm Beach at extended spring training the last two years than in Nationals Park. 

When Glover arrived in 2016, he immediately presented traits often associated with closers. He had the size, stuff and demeanor -- 6-foot-5, high-90s fastball, stern mentality. Glover started the season with Single-A Potomac but was on a major-league mound by July 20. He began well, then finished poorly. And injured.

Glover’s run from there included trials so common for young relievers: he tried to pitch through injury in order to prove his standing in the major leagues. Eventually, hip, back and arm problems chipped away at his availability and spirit. Glover was stuck in a seemingly endless rehabilitation cycle. When returning to the big leagues in August of 2018, Glover admitted to the influence of the mental grind while trying to fix his physical issues.

“I mean, yeah, it took a toll on me, honestly,” Glover said then. “I’m not gonna lie to you. Being down in Florida, getting there, getting another MRI, and they’re like ‘you can’t go’ again, it takes a toll on you. Especially when you’re this young and you keep having these injuries, you’re like I shouldn’t be having to deal with this yet. But it’s one of them things and I’m glad I’m through and it’s been a hell of a journey. But I’m finally here and I’m happy.”

Glover pitched 1/3 of an inning and walked three in his lone 2019 spring training appearance. He didn’t pitch again with the major-league team because of forearm and elbow pain.

His Monday post preceded the Nationals’ announcement they did not tender him a contract. Just four years after zooming into the major leagues as the closer of the future, Glover is done.  

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Which Nationals would have been named All-Stars in a normal season?

Which Nationals would have been named All-Stars in a normal season?

July 14, 2020 was supposed to be a day for celebrating the best players in Major League Baseball. The 2020 MLB All-Star Game, set to take place that evening at Dodger Stadium, had the promise of putting some of the biggest names on display such as Mookie Betts in his new LA threads, Gerrit Cole still fresh off signing a $324 million deal last winter and Mike Trout from only a few miles down the road.

However, the coronavirus pandemic had other plans. MLB suspended spring training on March 12 and spent three months on hold before ultimately settling on a 60-game season that begins July 23. As a result, there will be no All-Star Game for the first time since 1945.

The Nationals, coming off their first World Series title in franchise history, have plenty of stars who would’ve merited consideration. Even with 2019 NL MVP candidate Anthony Rendon departing for the Los Angeles Angels in free agency, there’s no shortage of talent in D.C.

Here are the players that stood the best chance of representing the Nationals in this year’s All-Star Game.

The favorites

SP Max Scherzer

Name value alone could’ve gotten him in if fans could vote on pitchers, but even a 35-year-old Scherzer can’t be counted out of making another run at the NL Cy Young.

SP Stephen Strasburg,

The reigning World Series MVP is already a three-time All-Star and coming off an offseason in which he signed a seven-year, $245 million deal to return to Washington.

LF Juan Soto

Making his first All-Star team would seem like something of a formality for Soto, who has already established himself as one of the game’s best young stars.

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Needed a career year

SP Patrick Corbin

Corbin was given the Warren Spahn Award for the best left-hander in baseball last season and is no stranger to the Midsummer Classic. If he could’ve avoided the infrequent implosion (five starts of 5+ runs allowed in 2019) on the mound, he stood a good chance of posting numbers worthy of a selection.

RP Sean Doolittle

With Will Harris and Daniel Hudson in the fold, Doolittle wouldn’t have been relied on as much as he was last season. By getting more rest and still handling closer duties for a contending team, Doolittle certainly would’ve been in the running.

SS Trea Turner

No broken finger holding him back, Turner had a chance to show he can help replace some of Rendon’s production in what would’ve been his age-27 season. Shortstop is a deep position in the NL (Trevor Story, Javier Báez, Fernando Tatís Jr., Corey Seager) but Turner has to make it one of these years, right?

2B Starlin Castro

Castro may not be the first player who comes to mind when you hear “four-time All-Star” but that’s what happens when a young, healthy infielder plays every day during a rebuild. However, coming off a 2019 second half in which he hit .302 with 16 home runs, Castro came to D.C. looking to show he’s developed into a different kind of player.

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If he made the leap

CF Victor Robles

Though it’s a bit of a long shot considering his struggles at the plate as a rookie, Robles has always displayed the tools that make coaches dream of what he can become. As he gains a few more pounds—Robles is one of the strongest players on the team—and improves his plate discipline, there’s no telling what his ceiling might be.

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Nationals scene and heard: Max Scherzer grunting through his work

Nationals scene and heard: Max Scherzer grunting through his work

WASHINGTON -- Come inside Nationals Park -- through words.

The Nationals began intrasquad games Monday night. They played five innings, the park was empty, and the whole thing remains odd.

But, we’ll try to give you some in-the-park insight, both small and large, as the team creeps toward a season. And we’ll start with Monday night.

-- The first intrasquad game featured Max Scherzer and Austin Voth as the starters. Scherzer’s final line and general orneriness indicated he was not far from being ready for the July 23 opener: 67 pitches, four innings, two hits, one walk, nine strikeouts, zero earned runs.

The opposing lineup was not Stanton, Judge and Co. It was more of the Nationals’ ‘B’ squad. Regardless, his execution was crisp from the start. Scherzer struck out Wilmer Difo to start the five-inning mock game.

The only extra-base hit against him was a double down the third-base line by Kurt Suzuki. Suzuki -- who has intimate knowledge of Scherzer’s preferred sequencing -- struck out in his next at-bat. He looked out at the mound, Scherzer said something to him, turned his head, Suzuki said something back, Scherzer turned back to say something else. Making the proverbial dinner plans, apparently.

-- Voth is after the No. 5 starter spot, a competition he has been part of for the last year-plus. It will be him or Erick Fedde in the rotation. Whoever is not among the front five will be in the bullpen to start. Davey Martinez said Voth’s velocity was good (there is a person holding a radar gun behind the plate, but the numbers are not posted on the scoreboard). The pair will pitch again Saturday when Philadelphia comes to Nationals Park for the first exhibition game. Scherzer will start. Voth will follow. Scherzer remains lined up to start the opener against New York and Gerrit Cole on July 23.

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-- Sean Doolittle pitched Monday, too. His inning went quickly. Two things to note: Doolittle had to jog in from the bullpen because there is no bullpen cart to use. Second, he put a long, sleeve-like mask on the back of the mound when he arrived. Once the inning was over, Doolittle pulled it on as he walked toward the dugout.

-- Stephen Strasburg held a front-row seat to watch Scherzer and Voth pitch. Aníbal Sánchez was a handful of rows behind Strasburg and decided to dance in his shorts and shower shoes between innings. He was also the game’s lead heckler.

-- Starlin Castro appears destined for the No. 3 spot in the order, as expected in spring training. Juan Soto’s return -- whenever it happens -- could influence that. But, for now, the top of the lineup appears situated: Trea Turner, Adam Eaton, Castro and Eric Thames. Pop Soto in Thames’ place to bump him down a spot. Though Soto-Thames presents back-to-back left-hander hitters, Soto’s splits and talent make the concern mostly moot. Soto is effective enough against left-handed pitchers. And the Nationals would try to find another right-handed bat to replace Thames if a left-handed starter was on the mound. One option after Ryan Zimmerman’s decision not to play and Howie Kendrick still not with the team could be Jake Noll.

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-- Silence remains one of the strangest things about the setting. When Castro tapped his bat on the plate, it could be heard way up in the press box (at the 400 level). Other teams, like Houston, are piping in fake fan noise. One reporter said it just sounded like "a loud air conditioner." Martinez said they are considering everything.

-- The Nationals are short on players. So, 53-year-old Jeff Garber, the Nationals’ co-field coordinator/Infield coordinator for the minor leagues, grabbed a glove and ventured out to right field. He made two catches and butchered another fly ball. Garber was drafted as an infielder by Kansas City in the 10th round in 1988. He ended up playing eight years in the minor leagues, making it to Triple-A four times. He never made his way onto a major-league field as a player. But, he will always have his stint in right field Monday.

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