JUPITER, Fla. -- Reliever Rafael Soriano, who has made just five Grapefruit League appearances this spring, could be looking at another setback in the coming days.
Manager Davey Johnson said Soriano has been bothered by a wisdom tooth problem, and it's something that could require surgery in the near future. After arriving late to camp because of visa issues, Soriano has a 11.57 ERA in five games (4 2/3 innings) while striking out five and walking one.
Johnson said Soriano made a trip back to his native Dominican Republic on the Nationals' off-day on Tuesday and was expected to return to Florida on Wednesday afternoon, at which point the Nats would have a better idea of their course of action. Soriano is scheduled to pitch next on Friday.
"I think from the X-rays, it could be a problem," Johnson said. "He could need to have a root canal or something, I don't know, further examination from the X-ray. He hasn't committed to anything. But that's something that you always look at, because if he has an impacted molar or something, it could lead to an infection, and that can be a problem for your shoulder."
It's not uncommon, as Johnson alluded, for tooth pain to impact the shoulder and neck. But it's unclear whether Soriano will choose to have any necessary operation performed in the States or back in the Dominican. The team is hoping the right-hander will be able to throw on back-to-back days before Opening Day. To get a better idea of the plan, the club is waiting to hear from Soriano and playing it by ear.
Or, Johnson said: "Play it by tooth."
Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak.& This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.