The Nationals continue to dawdle around .500 and their players aren't helping their cause, as many remain hindered with injuries. Dan Haren was sent to the DL with shoulder stiffness, and Jayson Werth left Sunday's game early with a groin strain. On the brighter side, Bryce Harper should be returning soon, but his timetable still remains unclear. And don't forget, bursitis can be a recurring injury if not fully healed; any rush, and there may be more permanent damage. One thing is clear, however: the Nationals need their star outfielders back, before it's too late to make a playoff run.
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Here's the latest injury news:
• SP Dan Haren, Washington Nationals: Haren downplayed his diagnosis of shoulder stiffness when talking to reporters, and claimed it isn't anything he hasn't already pitched through this season, but the rest of the team wants him to get back to 100 percent. Fantasy owners know better than anyone that Haren has been struggling through the worst season of his career, with a 6.15 ERA and just 67 strikeouts. It sounds like the Nationals are using Haren's shoulder stiffness as an excuse to rest him and give him some treatment. Haren owners should use this as an excuse to drop him; let that pitching-needy owner in your league absorb his ERA.
• OF Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals: Werth came out of Sunday night's game with a sore groin, which he attributed to dehydration and recent flu-like symptoms (he sat out Saturday's game against the Rockies). The 34-year-old veteran already missed 28 games earlier this season with a pulled hamstring, and this recent injury makes people wonder whether or not he's beginning to show his age. There are no plans yet for an MRI, so Werth owners, don't panic. However, if he misses more than a week, he may find his way to the DL again. At that point it might be time drop him.
• OF Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers: Gomez's monster season has been interrupted after he pulled a Bryce Harper Sunday afternoon, crashing into the centerfield wall as he robbed Andrelton Simmons of a sure multiple base hit. Video replays showed that he appeared to get his elbow pinned behind him against the wall as his body crashed down, forcing the elbow up (you can also hear the crowd audibly groan when they see the replay on the big screen). Right now, it seems that Gomez has escaped with just a sprained shoulder, and is considered day to day -- no DL talk, yet, which is lucky, especially considering that both Ryan Braun (right thumb) and Corey Hart (knee) are already on the DL for the Brewers. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy said, "I thought he broke his collarbone again, I really did." Milwaukee was off on Monday, and Gomez sat out Tuesday against the Cubs. Though Gomez said he hoped to be back Wednesday, it would not be surprising to see him brought back slowly to shake any residual soreness from his shoulder.
• OF Angel Pagan, San Francisco Giants: Pagan was close to returning after injuring his hamstring on May 28. Unfortunately, while running out of the batter's box during a rehab game in Stockton, he felt a pop, and immediately knew that he had reinjured it. Pagan will have surgery on June 25 to repair a tendon in the hamstring, putting him out for at least 12 weeks. Fantasy owners, this is likely the end of the season for him, as Gregor Blanco will take over in center field.
• SS Jose Reyes, Toronto Blue Jays: Reyes has been out since spraining his ankle April 12, but his fantasy owners will be happy to hear he will finally be back in the lineup Thursday against the Red Sox. Reyes may show a bit of rust, but he amassed over 25 plate appearances, stole two bases and scored six runs during his rehab assignment. Unless you somehow managed to pick up Jean Segura, Reyes should start immediately.
• 3B Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants: The Panda was activated Monday after missing just a little over two weeks with a strained foot. Sandoval expected to be out for closer to a month, but his rehab progressed faster than expected; his fantasy owners will be pleased to hear that he hit two home runs in six at bats during his minor league assignment. Sandoval went 2 for 4 in his return to the Giants lineup Monday night.
• 2B Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks: After missing all but 10 games this season, Hill has been activated by the Diamondbacks and will play in his first game back in over two months. Originally, Hill was slated to miss only six weeks after being hit by a pitch that broke his wrist, but the bone did not heal properly, resulting in a nonunion fracture. He says his hand feels fine, and in six rehab games, he went 9 for 24 with eight runs, six RBIs, a double and a triple. He started Tuesday, and collected two hits in four trips to the plate. Fantasy owners shouldn't hesitate to get him back in their lineups.
• RP Rafael Betancourt, Colorado Rockies: For the first time since suffering a groin injury, Betancourt threw to live hitters -- even throwing offspeed pitches -- and is scheduled to throw again during the Rockies' road trip to Boston. The team returns home Thursday, and Betancourt hopes to be actived soon after. In his absence, Rex Brothers has been spectacular in closing for the Rockies, not giving up an earned run in the entire month of June so far. It's unclear as to who will pitch once Betancourt returns, which is less than ideal for his fantasy owners.