The Washington Post

Elbow issue ends Cavalli’s spring start prematurel­y

Nationals right-hander is pulled in third inning of 5-0 win over the Mets


Righthande­r Cade Cavalli exited the Washington Nationals’ spring training matchup with the New York Mets on Tuesday after “feeling something behind his throwing elbow,” Manager Dave Martinez said. Cavalli is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam Wednesday.

In the third inning of the Nationals’ 5-0 win, Cavalli threw a pitch that sailed well above the strike zone, then shook his arm before walking behind the mound and bending over. Head athletic trainer Paul Lessard and Martinez came out to check on him. Cavalli asked Martinez whether he could throw another pitch; Martinez said no, and Cavalli walked off with Lessard.

“When you start seeing a pitcher kind of shake his hand, I always say we got to go out there and take him out,” Martinez said. “I said, ‘We’ll get you checked out, and we’ll see what’s going on and get you back out as soon as you can.’ ”

Cavalli was not made available to speak with reporters.

The 24-year-old, who made his major league debut in August, has been expected to be part of the Nationals’ rotation this season. A first-round pick in the 2020 draft, Cavalli rose quickly through the minor leagues. In 2021, his first profession­al season, he moved from high Class A Wilmington to Class AAA Rochester.

Last season, he debuted Aug. 26 against the Cincinnati Reds. He allowed seven runs in 41/ innings, then was placed on

3 the injured list a few days later with shoulder inflammati­on. But Cavalli entered spring training with no limitation­s and looked primed for his first full season in the majors.

“I’m in the mind-set where I just kind of forgot about it,” he said on the first day of camp. “I strengthen­ed, I did everything I could in preparatio­n to go attack this spring, and that’s where my head’s at.”

Cavalli appeared twice in relief to open spring training before making his first start Thursday in a World Baseball Classic exhibition against Israel. He looked sharp before leaving Tuesday’s game, throwing 31 of 43 pitches for strikes and allowing just one base runner, on a walk. Martinez said his outing provided a glimpse of what he could be.

“He looked unbelievab­le,” Martinez said. “I was pumped up, excited. He was throwing the ball really well. So hopefully we’ll get him checked out tomorrow, and hopefully it’s something minor, and then we’ll go from there.”

If Cavalli’s health is in question, Washington could look internally for another starter. Cory Abbott, Joan Adon and Paolo

Espino — all on the 40-man roster — made starts last season. Martinez said the team could look at Jake Irvin, who was optioned to Rochester earlier Tuesday. Chad Kuhl is in camp as a nonroster invite, and finding another arm in free agency is always an option.

Opening Day is March 30 against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park.

“He means a lot,” catcher Keibert Ruiz said of Cavalli. “He’s part of the future of this team. I feel bad for what happened today, and I hope everything is fine.”

 ?? RICH STORRY/USA TODAY SPORTS ?? Cade Cavalli, who is expected to be an integral part of the rotation, will have an MRI exam Wednesday.
RICH STORRY/USA TODAY SPORTS Cade Cavalli, who is expected to be an integral part of the rotation, will have an MRI exam Wednesday.

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