After reporting to Spring Training with the most buzz and excitement of any team in baseball, the Washington Nationals have been dealing with several injuries that have created many concerns for a team that wasn’t supposed to have any going into the regular season. Now, it looks like the team has yet another player to worry about on the injury front as reliever Casey Janssen is dealing with a sore right shoulder.
According to multiple reports, the right-hander has been dealing with a sore shoulder since his last outing and is expected to receive an MRI later today. The shoulder soreness is especially concerning for Janssen, who is no stranger to shoulder injuries in his career.
According to James Wagner of the Washington Post, Janssen had minor shoulder surgery in 2012 to treat soreness in his AC joint and had shoulder soreness to start last season as well. Janssen missed the first month and a half of last season with a lat injury that caused soreness in his shoulder, and he may be dealing with something similar this spring.
“Generally it’s in his lat,” manager Matt Williams said of Janssen’s shoulder issues to the Washington Post. “It’s not something that’s normal soreness for him.”
Of course, there’s very little information available about Janssen’s condition right now and we can’t jump to any conclusions until the results of the MRI are known. But given the injury issues the Nationals have already had this spring and the importance of Janssen’s role in the bullpen, it’s important that the team prepares for the worst.
The Nationals signed Janssen to a one-year, $3.5 million deal this offseason with the expectation that he would take over the eight-inning setup role left vacant by Tyler Clippard. If Janssen’s shoulder issue lingers into the season and he’s forced to spend time on the disabled list, the team will have to come up with another option to serve as a bridge to closer Drew Storen.
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Fortunately, the Nationals have plenty of pitching depth and replacing Janssen shouldn’t be too difficult if the need arises. The team could turn to Blake Treinen, who has impressed everyone with his pitching this spring. The Nationals could also go with another youngster, Aaron Barrett, or they could rely on veterans such as Craig Stammen.
While finding an eighth inning replacement for the first couple of weeks of the season shouldn’t be a huge issue for the Nationals, the team needs Janssen to come back and produce at the level they expected when they signed him this winter. The Nationals are already dealing with injuries to key position players; the last thing they need is for someone in the ‘pen to go down as well.
At this point, all the Nationals want is for Spring Training to be over without anymore casualties. Based on what we’ve seen over the last few weeks, that’s a lot easier said than done.