Washington Nationals run risk of breaking a fragile Carter Kieboom

Carter Kieboom #8 of the Washington Nationals warms up before the Spring Training game against the Houston Astros at FITTEAM Ballpark on March 1, 2021 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
Carter Kieboom #8 of the Washington Nationals warms up before the Spring Training game against the Houston Astros at FITTEAM Ballpark on March 1, 2021 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /
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He was called upon to bail out a struggling offense in 2019, and couldn’t. He was asked to replace Anthony Rendon at third base in 2020, and couldn’t. After struggling at the plate last season, and ending the season injured, Carter Kieboom was again looked at to hold his own this year at the hot corner. He didn’t make it out of spring training. The Washington Nationals have given the former first round pick ample opportunities, and he has yet to seize them.

Now, as the Nationals scramble to find replacement players in the midst of a COVID outbreak, Kieboom’s confidence level seems likely to fall even further..

As the Nationals try to fill a roster for “Opening Day”, Carter Kieboom waits and wonders if he’ll be the next man up.

Replacing an injured Trea Turner twenty games into his debut season, Kieboom homered in two out of his first three games. During his stay in the league, however, the Nationals went 3-8 and Kieboom hit .128. He was sent back to the minors, not to return during the year. Kieboom didn’t even resurface when rosters expanded in September. Some said strike one.

A year ago he was tasked with filling the shoes of a guy who lead the league in doubles and runs batted in, the year before. He had one extra base hit in nearly one hundred at-bats and hit .202 before a bone contusion on his left hand ended his season late in September.

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Over the summer, rumors were running rampant the Nationals were going to acquire a third baseman to replace their once heralded prospect. Kris Bryant’s name swirled. Eugenio Suarez’s name swirled. The brass may have downplayed the Bryant talk, but they poured gasoline on the fire by saying Kieboom could be included in trade talks. Some said strike two.

Entering spring training the job was Kiebooms. A month later he was jettisoned to the minor leagues after struggling mightily with the bat. Some said strike three.

As word broke there was a positive COVID test on the Nationals team, and others would be quarantined, we all wondered who the replacements would be. The first name we heard was Luis Garcia. Then Sam Clay. Tres Barrera. Then Yadiel Hernandez. We haven’t heard who the affected members of the current 26 man roster are, yet of the first four to get the call, Carter Kieboom was not one of them.

What if “many players from the alternate camp” means infielders? Do we see Adrian Sanchez before we see Kieboom? Do we see Jackson Cluff before we see Kieboom? Jonathon Lucroy was signed to a minor league contract after news of the positive COVID tests broke, will a free agent infielder be signed?

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With each player who is chosen over Kieboom another message is sent to the struggling infielder. Another brick added to the backpack of baggage Kieboom already carries around. How much more weight can he handle before he breaks?

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