Ryan Mattheus was back in the Nationals’ clubhouse Saturday morning, his rehab assignment having taken him to Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg while the Nationals were on their most recent road trip.
But Mattheus, while feeling healthy enough to return, has not been deemed ready by the team. He will go to Triple-A Syracuse this week to continue his rehab assignment, most likely pitching on back-to-back days as the final test before the Nationals activate him.
“Last time out we had him throw an inning a piece and he’s real close,” said Nationals manager Davey Johnson. “He’ll probably get one more outing. That’s kind of up to (Nationals GM Mike Rizzo). But his foot’s coming through it all right. That’s the big thing. His arm’s fine.”
What the Nationals will do with Mattheus, though, has yet to be decided. The Nationals bullpen, currently, is full, albeit constructed a bit unorthodoxly with four left-handers, including two left-handed long men. Mattheus is one of only two relievers (Craig Stammen the other) who have minor league options remaining.
That said, Mattheus’ loss has glared some in seventh-inning situations like Friday night’s when Brad Lidge was brought in in a 2-1 game that quickly became 6-1. Lidge is still working his way back into shape from sports hernia surgery, too, but that would likely have been a spot in which Mattheus’ number was called.
At any rate, the Nationals have 30 days to keep Mattheus on a rehab assignment that began on June 10 so logistically they have time to make their decision.
– The same type of choices will likely come up when Henry Rodriguez is ready to return from a strained right index finger. Rodriguez is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Sunday and then Johnson said he expects the right-hander to head to Triple-A Syracuse to begin a rehab assignment.