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Nationals Place Travis Blankenhorn On IL, Recall Blake Rutherford

The Nationals have placed outfielder Travis Blankenhorn on the 10-day injured list with plantar fasciitis, the team announced. The move is retroactive to September 16, which means the left-handed hitter could return as soon as next Tuesday. In a corresponding move, Washington recalled Blake Rutherford, another lefty batting outfielder, from Triple-A.

Blankenhorn, a long-time Twins prospect, made his MLB debut with Minnesota in 2020 but was designated for assignment in May 2021. He has since spent time in the Dodgers, Mariners, Mets, and Nationals organizations, mainly at the Triple-A level. The 27-year-old earned his first real shot at regular playing time this September, posting a forgettable .555 OPS but showing off impressive plate discipline, with six walks and only six strikeouts in 37 trips to the plate.

It’s possible to play through plantar fasciitis, as Carlos Correa has demonstrated this season, but with so few games remaining and the Nationals already eliminated from postseason contention, the team has little reason to put an ailing player back on the field. Rest is key for treating plantar heel pain, and an early start to the offseason should do Blankenhorn more good than a brief stint on the IL. Then again, he might prefer to get back in the lineup as soon as possible, in an effort to improve his numbers and increase his chances of sticking on Washington’s 40-man roster throughout the offseason.

The 26-year-old Rutherford made his MLB debut this August, seven years since he was selected by the Yankees in the first round of the 2016 draft. Despite strong numbers at Double and Triple-A, he struggled to make the adjustment to the majors, batting .182 with a .388 OPS in 15 games. Ultimately, he was optioned at the end of the month to make room for catcher Drew Millas on the active roster. Rutherford will now have a second chance to make a good impression over the final 11 games of the season.


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