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Nats place Stephen Strasburg on DL with elbow injury, call up Cole

Nats place Stephen Strasburg on DL with elbow injury, call up Cole

Just hours before Stephen Strasburg was set to face the Orioles in the series opener in Baltimore, the right-hander was instead placed on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow soreness. A.J. Cole will start in his place Monday night after being recalled from Triple-A Syracuse.

For Strasburg, this comes on the heels of the worst start of his career when he gave up nine earned runs in just 1 2/3 innings at the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday. He has allowed 19 earned runs in his last three starts and has seen his season ERA balloon to 3.59 along the way.

Strasburg had Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow in 2010. This is the first time since he returned from the procedure in 2011 that he's had any trouble with his elbow.

Strasburg, 28, made his second All-Star team this season after begining the year with a perfect 13-0 record. He currently leads the league with 15 wins.

This is the second time this season that Strasburg has spent time on the disabled list. He missed 17 games with an upper back strain before returning on July 3. Strasburg was lights-out in his first three starts off the DL, but over his last six has a 7.63 ERA across 30 2/3 total innings.

Up until just recently, Strasburg had been the Nats' best starting pitcher this season. They even handed him a contract extension in May worth seven years and $175 million. This was, of course, years after their controversial decision to shut him down during the 2012 season to conserve his innings following his Tommy John surgery.

For Cole, this is his second stint with the MLB club this season. He was called up last week, but didn't pitch. He has just three major league appearances under his belt, all from last season.

A former fourth roud pick, Cole has a 4.26 ERA in 22 starts at Triple-A this season.

Strasburg's DL stint is retroactive to Aug. 21.

[RELATED: Nats' Espinosa has tough day, Gio trending in wrong direction]

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Carter Kieboom has a mentor at spring training: veteran Asdrúbal Cabrera

Carter Kieboom has a mentor at spring training: veteran Asdrúbal Cabrera

With Trea Turner at shortstop and Starlin Castro at second base, the Nationals have two reliable veterans at the two positions Carter Kieboom has always played. 

So now, the Nationals' top prospect is competing for the starting third base job with seasoned veteran Asdrubal Cabrera. Once one of the best shortstops in baseball, Cabrera has fallen off defensively and has limited range nowadays, though he was still a key contributor to the Nationals' World Series championship in 2019. 

Instead of viewing Kieboom as just his competition and doing everything he can to win the job, Cabrera has taken on the role of mentor for the 22-year-old infielder.

“(Cabrera) takes ground balls with (Kieboom) every day,” Martinez said, according to MASN's Pete Kerzel. “I’ve asked him, ‘Hey, you need to take ground balls at second, too, and short sometimes.’ Religiously, for the purpose of being with Carter, he stands with Carter, helping him with his throws, making sure he understands that footwork is important when he’s throwing. ... He talks to him all the time about a bunch of different things, how to play positions, not take your at-bats to the field. He’s been unbelievable with him, he really has. It’s been good for Carter.”

Kieboom has struggled with errors through the early days of spring ball, which is to be expected considering he's a young player at a position he's never played regularly on the professional level. While a bunch of errors in February are nothing to get too concerned over, Kieboom will have to cut those down in March if he wants to win the job. 

Cabrera is seen as the backup plan at third if Kieboom can't secure the job during spring training. The 34-year-old is entering his 14th season and would probably be better maximized if he didn't have to play every day. 

If Kieboom isn't ready though, it wouldn't be the best idea for the Nationals to force it. So over the course of the next three weeks, we'll see just how much Cabrera can help the youngster. 

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Jayson Werth explains why he 'always thought' Bryce Harper could end up with Phillies

Jayson Werth explains why he 'always thought' Bryce Harper could end up with Phillies

During Phillies spring training on Friday, Jayson Werth visited his old team and former Nationals teammate Bryce Harper. It just so happened he had arrived on the one-year anniversary of Bryce Harper deciding to leave Washington to sign a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies. 

Werth spent six seasons sharing an outfield with Harper but before his days in Washington, he helped the Phillies win the World Series in 2008. His play in Philadelphia earned him a seven-year, $126 million deal with the Nationals in 2011. 

Harper's exit from DC is a sore subject for Nationals fans, even though a World Series championship definitely helped numb the pain. Werth explained in a story by NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury that he always had a hunch Harper could end up in Philly. 

"I always thought this would be a possible destination for him, even way back when, for a bunch of reasons," Werth said. "Kind of where the team was, the money was right, the owner was right, the town's right.

"But more than anything else," Werth added with widening eyes, "Citizens Bank Park is just an awesome place to hit. We always talked about that."

Werth clarified he doesn't want anyone to think he was pushing Harper to Philadelphia, just that as players they naturally had plenty of conversations about other ballparks. And it's hard to argue with that. 

Before he played a single game for the Phillies, Harper was Citizens Bank Park's all-time leader in slugging percentage. In 2019, Harper hit the second-most homers of his career (35) and his second-highest slugging percentage as well.

Werth even enjoyed a nice bump hitting in Philadelphia. During his time with the Nats, Werth his .291 with a .922 OPS to go along with 15 home runs and 45 RBI in 52 trips to Citizens Bank Park. 

Between the 81 games in a hitters ballpark and a $330 million contract without the deferred payments the Nationals reportedly offered to Harper last year, it makes a decent amount of sense he decided to take his talents north. 

But hey, the Nationals won a World Series the following season, and in epic fashion I might add, while there's no guarantee the Phillies get there any time soon. I mean, have you seen their pitching staff outside of Aaron Nola and Zach Wheeler?

So Bryce is happy and Nats fans are happy. Everyone wins, right? 

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