First baseman Adam LaRoche and pitchers Drew Storen, Chien-Ming Wang and Sean Burnett are all missing time due to injury, and each has a different timeline set for their return.
"We're going to be overly cautious with everybody because it's Spring Training," manager Davey Johnson said. "I think all those guys are close, as far as timing wise and conditioning wise, but we just can't take a chance on pushing anyone."
LaRoche is dealing with a foot injury, but Johnson believes it will be "a week or so, maybe a couple of weeks" before he can return.
"When I played basketball or baseball, if you sprained something, you wrapped it up and played, and it took a month and then you didn't know about it," Johnson said. "But now if you rest it for two weeks and then you tape it up, it's still going to bother you for two more weeks. I just don't want to do anything that could re-injure something and turn it into a longer injury."
Storen has some discomfort in his throwing arm and has had further tests done to determine the cause and severity of the discomfort. Johnson wants the 24-year-old to be completely healthy when he returns, because he envisions using him in an important role this season.
"We're going to be very cautious with him," Johnson said. "The way he pitches, his arm is in tremendous shape. His velocity is great and the movement is good. He threw a lot of innings last year. We need him to build up some innings. He's my closer. For him, I want to make sure he is 100 percent healthy and he doesn't do too much, because he's going to be my closer."
Wang was making a case to be the Nationals' fifth starter before a hamstring injury sidelined him. The right-hander hurt his hamstring covering first base on March 15 and has not pitched since.
"With Chein-Ming, he feels good and he played catch today," Johnson said. "But after I saw that bruise, I don't want to do anything, especially with a hammy."
Burnett seems like the only injured National with a promising outlook. The left-hander has been dealing with back spasms, but Johnson believes he will be ready to pitch soon.
"I saw him today on the training table and he was a lot better," Johnson said. "I know a lot about backs, more than probably anybody, since I've had two back operations and been through everything conceivable with the back. It can kill you to the point where you can't walk, and then you get rid of the spasms and you feel like a million dollars. I would say probably a couple more days. His arm is in great shape. He's throwing great."
The injured Nationals will be staying at the team's facility in Viera, Fla., this week while the team travels across the state to play Grapefruit League games on the road. Johnson hopes the outlook will be clearer at the conclusion of the Nationals' road trip this weekend.
"I think by the end of this road trip there will hopefully be some clarity on all of those guys," Johnson said. "We still have 10 days left and 11 games down here, so I'm not in panic mode about it. I'm hoping that after this road trip, we'll know who can do what and when, and if they're in any danger of re-injuring it playing. I'm going to really push for having more clarity by Sunday."