MILWAUKEE — The Washington Nationals placed right-hander Ross Ohlendorf on the disabled list Sunday morning with inflammation in his right shoulder and recalled left-hander Xavier Cedeno from Triple-A Syracuse to give them a fresh and available arm in the bullpen.
Ohlendorf, whose DL stint is retroactive to Aug. 1, does not believe the issue is a major one and hopes to be ready to return to the active roster as soon as he is eligible on Aug. 16. He understood the need for an extra arm in the bullpen, though, as he did not feel he’d be ready to pitch until Tuesday at the earliest.
“We don’t want to risk getting hurt and it would’ve put the bullpen at a disadvantage to have six guys,” Ohlendorf said Sunday morning, before the Nationals’ series finale with the Milwaukee Brewers. “I think it’s best for everybody. We have a full bullpen and we make sure that I get the full rest that I need before trying to pitch through it.”
Ohlendorf was called up from Triple-A on June 12 to start for the Nationals in Colorado. In 10 games since, including another start, he has worked to a 1.85 ERA and been a tremendous addition to their bullpen.
But he threw 114 pitches in a superb spot start for the Nationals on July 26 in the second game of a doubleheader — the most pitches he’d thrown in a major league game since 2009.
When he was called on in relief five days later in Detroit, Ohlendorf had lost roughly 10 mph from his fastball and the Nationals saw enough after 11 pitches to believe he was not operating at full strength.
Ohlendorf has undergone various strength tests in the days since that game and he’s passed them all, which has given him some peace of mind that the issue is nothing more than inflammation. He has not been sent for any further testing.
“I really feel like It’s just inflammation from pitching,” said Ohlendorf, who has continued to play catch each day. “It’s kind of standard, but the jump in pitches made it more inflammation than usual and I just need a little more time to get it back to normal.
“I wish that I didn’t need to go on the DL but I think this would help us. It’d be tough for us to have only six guys in the bullpen.”
Xavier Cedeno has a 1.40 ERA in Triple-A this season and has held opponents to a .204 batting average.
The injury also potentially complicates the Nationals’ plans for the starting rotation once rookie Taylor Jordan hits his innings limit. Jordan, who enters his start on Sunday at 119 2/3 innings, underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011 and the limit, which is expected to be in the 130- 160-inning range is part of the Nationals’ protocol for that type of rehab.
Ohlendorf had appeared to be the most likely candidate to replace Jordan once the Nationals decide to shut him down.
If the injury is minor, as it seems, Ohlendorf could still be considered. Jordan’s next turn in the rotation will arise on Saturday, Aug. 10, and then again on Friday, Aug. 16 — the first day Ohlendorf is eligible to return. If the Nationals allow Jordan one more start after Sunday, Ohlendorf could slide right into his spot for that Friday game in Atlanta.
If not, the Nationals have discussed other candidates in the minor leagues.
Right-hander Nate Karns, who has pitched well in Double-A since returning from his first major league call up, could be considered, but another name to watch might be that of right-hander Tanner Roark.
Roark, who was in major league spring training with the Nationals, is 9-3 with a 3.15 ERA for Triple-A Syracuse this season. Since May 1, Roark has thrown 84 1/3 innings and worked to a 1.81 ERA.
Roark would need to be added to the Nationals’ 40-man roster in order to be called up.