Nationals’ Cade Cavalli exits spring training start with elbow problems


PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Right-hander Cade Cavalli walked out of the Washington Nationals spring practice game with the New York Mets Tuesday after he “felt something behind his throwing arm,” manager Dave Martinez said. Cavalli is scheduled to undergo an MRI scan on Wednesday.

In the third inning of the Nationals’ 3-0 win, Cavalli threw a pitch that sailed well over the hitting zone, then shook his arm before going behind the mound and ducking down. Senior Athletic Coach Paul Lessard and Martinez came out to check on him. Cavalli asked Martinez if he could throw another pitch, but Martinez said no and Cavalli walked away with Lessard.

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

Cavalli was not made available to speak to reporters.

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The 24-year-old, who made his major league debut in August, should 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.

He made his debut on August 26 against the Cincinnati Reds last season. He allowed seven runs in 4⅓ innings and then was put on the injured list a few days later with a shoulder infection. But Cavalli entered spring training without restrictions and seemed primed for his first full season in the majors.

“I’m in a mindset where I kind of forgot,” he said on day one of camp. “I braced myself, I did everything I could to prepare to attack this spring and that’s where my head is.”

Cavalli appeared relieved twice to open spring training before making his first start at a World Baseball Classic show against Israel on Thursday. 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 gave a glimpse of what he could be.

“He looked amazing,” Martinez said. “I was pumped, excited. He threw the ball really well. Hopefully we’ll get him checked out tomorrow and hopefully it’s something small and then we’ll move on.”

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If Cavalli’s health is in question, Washington could look for another starter internally. Cory Abbott, Joan Adon and Paolo Espino – all on the 40-man roster – started last season. Martinez said the team could look at Jake Irvin, who was voted to Rochester early Tuesday. Chad Kuhl is at camp as a non-roster invite, and finding another free arm is always an option.

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

“He means a lot to me,” said catcher Keibert Ruiz about Cavalli. “He is part of the future of this team. I feel bad about what happened today and I hope everything is okay.” Nationals’ Cade Cavalli exits spring training start with elbow problems

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