The 2014 season for Nate McLouth is now over, as the Nationals outfielder is set for surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder on Thursday.
The 32-year-old has been out since Aug. 1 when he initially complained of discomfort. That was four days after the veteran landed on his shoulder while attempting a diving catch against the Marlins on July 28.
McLouth was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 2, but the recovery did not progress as planned. He had an arthrogram on Monday and received second opinions from various doctors. The consensus was surgery, and now McLouth will work towards returning 100 percent for 2015 spring training.
"Nate's going to have surgery Thursday, he's got a torn labrum," manager Matt Williams said. "It's something that he's been dealing with all year, but the symptoms really got bad after that game in Miami when he dove for that ball. It just hasn't gotten any better since."
On the notion of McLouth playing through the injury all season, Williams understands why he didn't speak up about it. Williams is just over a decade removed from his playing days and he knows how big leaguers operate.
"No player will ever say. You're never going to admit to something bothering you to [explain] a lack of production," he said.
"You also look at last year and he played pretty regularly with no complications and no issues and he did well. That's something I don't know. He never talked about it, we never talked about it that particular thing. But since he dove for that ball in Miami, that's kind of the timeframe of where it started to get a lot worse."
The Nationals signed McLouth to a two-year deal worth $10 million this offseason with a team option for 2016. He was brought in to be their fourth outfielder, a significant role on a team with an injury-prone roster.
McLouth, however, never found his way on offense and through 79 games hit just .173 with one home run and 35 strikeouts in 139 at-bats. He will now hope to come back strong in 2015 to give the production he was unable to provide in his first year with the team.
The Nationals signed veteran outfielder Nate Schierholtz on Monday as a potential replacement for McLouth. For now, the Nats have rookie Michael Taylor in Washington to fill the backup outfielder role alongside Scott Hairston. Fellow rookie Steven Souza, Jr. initially replaced McLouth before going down with a shoulder injury himself.
Schierholtz, though, could provide a more experienced option than Souza or Taylor, especially come late September and in October if the Nats make the postseason. Schierholtz was in the lineup at Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday and is expected to join the Nats as soon as he is ready.
Nationals general manager drew a connection between the Schierholtz signing and McLouth's injury, and now it is even clearer. McLouth's season is over and getting ready for 2015 is his biggest focus moving forward.
"He just hasn't been able to progress back to where he wanted it to be since that date," Williams said. "We decided to go ahead and get it fixed and be ready for next spring."