Nationals to ‘take it slow’ with injured trade acquisition MacKenzie Gore

Nats to ‘take it slow’ with injured trade acquisition Gore originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

WASHINGTON — The Nationals made left-handed starter MacKenzie Gore a centerpiece of their biggest trade in franchise history Tuesday when they acquired him as part of the six-player package the San Diego Padres sent in exchange for Juan Soto and Josh Bell.

Gore, 23, is a former consensus top-10 prospect and No. 3 overall draft pick who got off to a hot start with the Padres as a rookie this season before enduring a stretch of up-and-down outings that culminated with an elbow injury just before the trade deadline. He landed on the 15-Day Injured List with left elbow inflammation, though his MRI showed no ligament damage.

The injury wasn’t significant enough to dissuade the Nationals. President of Baseball Operations and GM Mike Rizzo said in a press conference following the trade that they plan to take it easy with Gore, who’s only once thrown more than 100 innings in a professional season.

“We’re gonna take it slow with him for sure,” Rizzo said. “He’s had limited innings his whole career. He had a big workload early on this season that he’s never had before. The injury did make things a little bit more complicated, a little bit more work. We had to do a lot of due diligence medically but there was nothing hidden and the reports and the MRIs were viewed and the doctor gave us the thumbs up to complete the trade.”

After his first nine outings, Gore looked like an early NL Rookie of the Year candidate. He posted a 1.50 ERA with 57 strikeouts and 17 walks in 48 innings through June 4. The Padres were managing his innings carefully, skipping the occasional start and placing him in the bullpen at different points.

However, his velocity waned a bit following that June 4 start and the results took a dive. Gore had an 11.05 ERA with 15 strikeouts and 20 walks over his next seven games (five starts) before landing on the IL. According to MLB.com, Padres manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Gore didn’t have any issues with his elbow until his appearance July 25 when he exited with trainers.

RELATED: After trading Juan Soto, Nats expect ‘reboot’ to progress even quicker

Speaking with the Grant & Danny Show on 106.7 The Fan, Gore echoed the Nationals’ sentiments that the injury is minor and won’t affect him long-term.

“The arm injury, it’s minor so that was good news,” Gore said. “Just trying to get back where I can get back to pitching well.”

“The timeline, I’m not sure, but it’s not crazy long. We’re gonna have to see how it is the next week or two then hopefully start throwing at some point and get ready to get back in the game.”

Of course, any elbow injury to a pitcher is going to be handled with caution. The Nationals have had plenty of experience with pitchers being forced to undergo Tommy John surgery and they won’t let Gore back onto the mound until trainers determine he’s ready.

“I don’t want to rush him in any way,” manager Davey Martinez said. “I want him to continue to progress. We want to see where he’s at so he’s gonna see our trainers and stuff and get examined and then after that we’ll go from there. I know he’s pitched a lot in the beginning [of the season] so we’ll see how we’re gonna handle this moving forward. The good news is that we have him and he’s here. I watched a lot of video of him and he’s a good one. He’s gonna help us.”

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.

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