Nationals third baseman Carter Kieboom is set to undergo Tommy John surgery May 27 after being unable to overcome a pair of elbow injuries he suffered during spring training, manager Davey Martinez announced in his pregame press conference Friday. He’s expected to miss the entire 2022 season and be ready for spring training next year.
“He felt better and then he went to throw a ball, he said he felt something and we went to get some more MRIs and they opted to do the surgery,” Martinez said, as aired on MASN. “Which kind of stinks for him but hopefully after the surgery we get him back rehabbing.
“At this point, we thought it was best and he thought it was best that he does have the surgery and fix it and this way he comes back and there’s no other issues.”
Kieboom entered spring in competition with non-roster invitee Maikel Franco for the starting third base job, the third time in as many years the Nationals have given Kieboom a chance to earn a spot on their Opening Day roster. However, he landed on the 60-Day IL in late March with both a UCL sprain and strained flexor mass in his right elbow.
Franco then became the Nationals’ de facto starting third baseman while Kieboom stayed back in West Palm Beach to rehab. He had resumed throwing as of May 5, when Martinez said he made 20 throws at 60 feet. The 24-year-old didn’t make enough progress from there to avoid reconstruction surgery.
The procedure is only the latest setback for the Nationals’ 2016 first-round pick. Kieboom has struggled to establish himself in the majors both at the plate (.589 career OPS in 106 games) and on defense (-4 Defensive Runs Saved at third base). His first real opportunity for extended playing time came down the stretch last season when he hit .207 with six home runs and a .619 OPS in 62 games.
Without Kieboom in the fold, Franco will likely remain entrenched at third base. The Nationals have few internal options to compete for playing time on the infield. Franco is off to a solid start at the plate, hitting .262 with three homers and a .676 OPS in 39 games. His defense has seen a steady mix of highlight-reel plays and throwing errors on routine groundballs.