JUPITER, Fla. -- Nationals closer Rafael Soriano is dealing with a tooth issue that could delay his return to the mound, manager Davey Johnson said today.
Soriano is currently scheduled to appear Friday against the Tigers, but that outing could be pushed back if the right-hander needs a procedure to address what Johnson described as "a little infection" of the wisdom tooth.
"I think from the X-rays they saw, it could be a problem," Johnson said prior to the Nationals' game against the Marlins. "He could need to have a root canal or something, I don't know, further examination from the X-ray. He hasn't complained or anything, but that's something you always look at."
Soriano was in his native Dominican Republic yesterday (an off-day for the Nationals) dealing with a family issue, but he was scheduled to return to Viera today.
The veteran closer, signed in January for $28 million, has made only five appearances this spring -- he told Johnson when he arrived for camp that he only needed 8 to 10 innings of work before Opening Day -- and has struggled in his two most recent games. Soriano gave up two runs to the Astros on Thursday, then was roughed up by the Tigers for four runs on Monday, the last time he took the mound.
Johnson hopes Soriano is able to address the tooth issue soon, pointing out tooth pain can actually radiate down the neck and into the shoulder as well.
"They want to take care of that ASAP, from what I can gather," the manager said.