Washington Nationals: Victor Robles starts his comeback

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 10: Victor Robles #14 of the Washington Nationals slides into third base in the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park on September 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. Robles got his first carrer hit with a double but was out on the play over-sliding third base. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 10: Victor Robles #14 of the Washington Nationals slides into third base in the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park on September 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. Robles got his first carrer hit with a double but was out on the play over-sliding third base. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /
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A somewhat forgotten man with the Washington Nationals this year, Victor Robles is working his way back from injury. He played his first rehab game Saturday.

After a hyperextended left elbow injury in April, Washington Nationals outfielder Victor Robles has been quietly rehabbing. But now, he’s begun playing rehab games, and we should see him with the big league club again this year.

Just four games into the Triple-A season with the Syracuse Chiefs, Robles made a diving play, injuring his elbow. Things didn’t look good at the time.

But it emerged shortly after that he would return this season, and now appears to be ahead of schedule. On Saturday, after stepping up his recovery, he appeared for the Gulf Coast League Nationals while going 0 for 2.

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Now he needs to get back into game shape, so expect him to stay with the GCL Nats for a few days, before moving to the lower minors. He’ll then hope to resume his season with the Chiefs within a couple of weeks.

It’s unlikely that Robles will come up to the Washington Nationals before rosters expand in September. They already have an outfield logjam with five major league quality players already on the 25 man roster.

He may well already be on the big league roster were it not for the injury. Michael Taylor was struggling early on, so had Robles performed for the Chiefs, he may well have run away with the centerfield job.

But now they can ensure he’s fully healthy and getting regular at-bats in Triple-A, partly due to the emergence of Juan Soto.

Soto overtook Robles on many prospects lists after his development was accelerated due to an outfield shortage. He now appears to be here to stay, and part of a bright future in the outfield with Robles as soon as this year.

If Robles can return to the dynamic player that he was in the minor, it also may influence the Nats offseason plans. You may have heard that Bryce Harper is a free agent after this season, and an outfield of Robles, Soto and Adam Eaton may mean Harper isn’t priority number one this winter.

Next: Fold, stick or twist at the deadline?

The Washington Nationals will be delighted to get Victor Robles back this season. They just need to be careful not to aggravate his injury, and let him work back at his own pace.

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