8/23/2014 3:15 P.M. ET
Nats play it safe, end prospect Giolito's season
By Bill Ladson and Daniel Popper / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- Nationals top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito has been shut down for the remainder of the 2014 season as part of the organization's protocol regarding players rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, MLB.com confirmed Saturday.
Giolito, who is the Nationals' No. 1 prospect according to MLB.com, underwent the surgery shortly after Washington selected the right-hander with the No. 16 pick in the 2012 Draft. After a full recovery, Giolito went 10-2 with a 2.20 ERA in 20 starts (98 innings) for Class A Hagerstown this season.
The Nationals have made similar moves in the past with pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery. In 2012, right-hander Stephen Strasburg was shut down after 159 1/3 innings despite the Nationals winning the National League East title. Similarly in 2011, right-hander Jordan Zimmermann was shut down after 161 1/3 innings. Both moves came roughly two years after the pitchers underwent their respective surgeries.
Nationals wishing good health for Fister
WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Doug Fister announced after Friday's 10 -3 loss to the Giants that he had skin cancer removed from his neck earlier in the week.
Fister also said the procedure had nothing to do with Friday's outing in which he allowed four runs in six innings. In fact, in that same game, Fister singled to center field and tried to break up a double play in the third inning.
According to manager Matt Williams, Fister is not expected to miss any starts and will pitch Wednesday against the Phillies.
"[Fister] knew about the skin cancer for some time," Williams said. "He took care of it. It's a fairly common occurrence. Because it's on his neck and he is on television, people noticed [the scar on his neck]. From all indications, everything was taken care of. He certainly will have further tests to make sure everything is good."
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said he didn't know about Fister's circumstances until he was approached by a member of the media Saturday afternoon.
"Doug is tough, obviously. He loves pitching," Zimmerman said. "He threw well last night. Doug threw some pitches that he would like to have back, but he has been so consistent. He has been a leader in this clubhouse. He is a big part of our pitching staff. His energy is infectious is the best way to put it."
Left-hander Gio Gonzalez said he is more concerned about Fister's health than with what he is doing on the mound.
"At the end of the day, last night's game did not matter as long as he felt fine," Gonzalez said. "That's all we care about. He has been a big part of so many great things we have accomplished this year. Last night, we just brushed [the game] under the rug. We just want a healthy Doug."
Fister is arguably the Nationals' best pitcher this season, going 12-4 with a 2.38 ERA in 19 starts. Right-hander Tanner Roark said Fister's work ethic is unbelievable.
"He is always in the weight room and running. Every time I always see him, he is back there working out," Roark said. "He is a huge asset to this team. The way he works, it's great for this offense as far as getting the team back in the dugout."
Nats call up Schierholtz, option Taylor to Triple-A
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals selected the contract of outfielder Nate Schierholtz on Saturday and optioned prospect Michael Taylor to Triple-A Syracuse.
Schierholtz signed a Minor League contract with the organization Monday before arriving in Syracuse on Tuesday. The left-handed slugger went 3-for-19 with a home run and four RBIs in four games for the Chiefs.
Schierholtz will help fill the hole in the Nationals' bench created when fellow lefty Nate McLouth underwent season-ending shoulder surgery earlier this week.
"He's got some ABs under his belt," manager Matt Williams said of Schierholtz. "We've been so right-handed dominant off the bench, it gives us an opportunity to have a lefty later in the game."
Taylor received his first shot in the Majors after injuries to McLouth and Steven Souza Jr. The outfielder played in just four games for Triple-A Syracuse before the Nationals called him up. Nonetheless, he had a sensational debut, going 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs on Aug. 12 at the Mets.
But Taylor's inexperience became apparent over the next 10 days, as he delivered just one hit in 14 at-bats.
"Michael will go back and play a little bit," Williams said. "We'll see how that goes in September."
Schierholtz had a career-best season with the Cubs in 2013, when he hit .251 with 21 home runs and 68 RBIs, but he tapered off in Chicago this year. In 99 games, Schierholtz compiled a .192 average with six home runs in 313 at-bats before the Cubs designated him for assignment Aug. 6.
"I had a couple weeks back at home, which isn't ideal to any player," Schierholtz said. "But I feel like, at this point in the season, you get back into the swing of things pretty quick."
As a World Series champion with the Giants in 2010, Schierholtz flourished in a bench role, largely because he was able to "pick the brains" of seasoned veterans. The outfielder said his success as a pinch-hitter also stems from the win-at-all-costs mentality he takes into those at-bats.
"When that's your job, it's kind of like going to war with a pitcher," Schierholtz said. "You only get one shot."
Despite a limited number of games at Triple-A this past week, Schierholtz said he feels ready to start contributing at the big league level.
And it doesn't hurt that he's joining a team that just wrapped up a franchise-record-tying 10-game winning streak.
"For me, it's just an exciting opportunity to get back to a winning atmosphere. And that's what it's all about," Schierholtz said. "I'm just excited for a fresh start here. I've kind of put the first half behind me and I'm ready to start in a winning environment."
• After playing a rehab game for both Class A Hagerstown and Class A Advanced Potomac on Thursday and Friday, respectively, Souza (left AC joint sprain) returned to Nationals Park on Saturday to take live batting practice with the team. He'll be back in Potomac on Sunday for another slate of rehab games in an effort to work his way up to a full nine innings.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Daniel Popper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. He also can be found on Twitter @danielrpopper. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.