PHILADELPHIA — The Washington Nationals were hoping to get good news when right-handed reliever Ryan Mattheus visited with a foot specialist in Baltimore on Tuesday but they apparently did not. Mattheus was placed on the 15-day disabled list with what a club source said was a partial tear in the plantar fascia in his left foot before Tuesday night’s game. The team, which officially termed Mattheus’ injury a plantar fascia strain, activated right-hander Chien-Ming Wang to assume his spot on the roster.
Mattheus has been dealing with the plantar fasciitis for a few weeks but it flared up when he was doing pre-game running with the rest of the Nationals’ pitchers on Monday and the pain was great enough for the team to want another opinion. Mattheus said Monday night that he was told even in a worst-case scenario, if his plantar fascia tore, he would be out just two weeks.
After visiting with the specialist, Mattheus will need to wear a walking boot for a few weeks but should remain clear to continue some lifting and throwing while his foot heals, likely lessening the time he’d need to get back into playing shape once the book comes off. The hope is this will also relieve the plantar fasciitis that has bothered him. He’ll be eligible to come off the disabled list on June 5.
This is likely not the way the Nationals were expecting to welcome Wang to the major league roster for the first time this season. They expected the right-hander to start once more for Triple-A Syracuse, taking him to the May 27 limit on his rehab assignment and then adding him to their active roster.
But Wang was scheduled to be in Philadelphia to throw his bullpen session in front of the Nationals’ coaches on Tuesday anyway and since the Nationals do not plan to insert him directly into the starting rotation, it’s a seamless roster move for him to take Mattheus’ spot in the bullpen, though not his role. Wang will serve, at least in the short-term, as a right-handed longman for the Nationals and free up Craig Stammen for more high-leverage innings.
Given his routine as a starter and the length of time it usually takes him to warm, Wang will most likely need considerable notice on days he pitches.
More from Citizens Bank Park later this afternoon.