Bill Ladson

Nats unsure whether McLouth will be ready for opener

Injured Escobar aiming for Sunday return in Minor League game

Nats unsure whether McLouth will be ready for opener

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Nationals manager Matt Williams said it's possible outfielder Nate McLouth may not be ready for Opening Day because of his ailing right shoulder.

McLouth, who missed the last two months of the 2014 season because of shoulder surgery, doesn't have any problems hitting the baseball, but throwing is another matter. He has played in two games this spring, but not since March 12, when he was a designated hitter against the Mets.

"Right now, [being ready for Opening Day] is in jeopardy because we haven't been able to get him out there for a number of at-bats and get him through a full spring," Williams said. "We are keeping in mind that he is coming off a pretty serious surgery."

With McLouth hurting, it could mean Tony Gwynn Jr. has a good chance to be on the Opening Day roster. Gwynn is having an excellent spring, hitting .407 and leading the team in hits with 11 through Thursday.

Nationals second baseman Yunel Escobar (Grade 1 left oblique strain) said that he hopes to play in a Minor League game starting Sunday. But Williams said Escobar has to get through some obstacles first.

Outlook: Escobar, SS, WSH

"[Escobar] has taken grounders, he has hit. We have to get him some live [batting practice] and push the limit and find out exactly where he is at," Williams said. "If we get him in a Minor League situation, we can control things a little bit better."

Williams said Escobar doesn't feel any pain when he takes grounders, but he feels some discomfort when swinging the bat. That's to be expected, according to Williams, who expects Escobar to be ready for Opening Day.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.