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Escobar’s hand swollen but not broken after HBP

Jun 26, 2015, 11:09 PM EST

USA Today Sports Images

PHILADELPHIA — Yunel Escobar became the latest member of the Nationals’ starting lineup to succumb to injury Friday night, forced out of his team’s game against the Phillies after getting struck in the left hand by a first-inning Aaron Harang fastball.

Preliminary X-rays were negative, according to manager Matt Williams, but Escobar’s hand remained sore and swollen, leaving his status for the rest of the weekend uncertain.

Escobar declined to speak to reporters following the Nationals’ 5-2 victory but sent word through a team spokesperson that “he’ll be fine.”

The veteran infielder was facing an 0-2 count in the top of the first inning when Harang’s 89-mph fastball veered in on him, striking the back of his left hand and then caroming well off to the right. Escobar immediately went down to the ground, writhing in pain as Williams and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz emerged from the dugout to check on him.

After a lengthy exam by Kuntz, Escobar did get up and trot to first base, remaining in the game for the moment. But after the top of the inning ended and the rest of the Nationals took their positions in the field, third base remained vacant. Eventually, Danny Espinosa shifted from second base, with Dan Uggla entering to take his spot as Escobar headed for the clubhouse.

“It’s pretty swollen,” Williams said. “We’ll see how he is tomorrow. But good news on the X-ray, anyway.”

Escobar’s departure left the already-thin Nationals lineup at bare-bone levels. Jayson Werth (fractured wrist) and Ryan Zimmerman (plantar fasciitis) have been on the disabled list for weeks, and Anthony Rendon (strained quadriceps) joined them on Friday afternoon. Bryce Harper (strained hamstring) missed his second straight game Friday, while Denard Span (back spasms) was a late scratch when his recurring condition acted up again.

That left the Nationals with only two members of their projected Opening Day lineup playing in Friday’s game: shortstop Ian Desmond and catcher Wilson Ramos.

Somehow, the remaining position players (those that have come off the bench and those that have been called up from the minors to help out) managed to help lead the Nationals to their seventh straight victory.

“That’s part of the game,” said Matt den Dekker, who took over right field on Friday and clubbed his first home run of the season. “It happens. Guys get hurt, guys get banged up and need a day here and there. It’s our job to be ready.”

Things got so tenuous Friday night, the Nationals essentially were left with a 1-man bench. Harper and Span were unavailable. Uggla had to enter in the bottom of the first after Escobar went down. Backup catcher Jose Lobaton had to be saved in case something happened to starter Wilson Ramos. That left only infielder Emmanuel Burriss, promoted from Class AAA Syracuse earlier in the day after Rendon was placed on the DL.

As it was, the Nationals wound up using pitcher Doug Fister as a pinch-hitter for Max Scherzer in the top of the ninth, with Williams not wanting to burn up Burriss in that spot.

“That’s why you saw Doug pinch-hit,” Williams said. “We don’t want to get in a situation where we don’t have anybody. It’s no fun to play like that, but it certainly helps when Max is on the mound and he can go deep in a game.”

  1. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 26, 2015 at 11:21 PM

    So if Escobar has to go on the DL, bring Difo back up for a bit? He’s already been up, so there are no contractual issues, I assume. Who else have they got?

    • therealjohnc - Jun 26, 2015 at 11:43 PM

      At that point Uggla might well become a short term starter, with Desmond at SS and Espinosa at 3b. In which case they might call up Jason Martinson to sit on the bench with Burriss. Martinson has played 2b, SS and 3b at Syracuse although his batting has cooled off after a hot start. He is leading the Chiefs with 9 HRs. It would require a roster move, probably one of the wounded warriors shifting to the 60 day DL.

      They could also bring up Difo, of course – but if they did that I’d like to see him playing every day.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 27, 2015 at 1:44 PM

        Martinson would be getting “the 28 best days of his life” as he is 26, and only just this season gotten to AAA. So there’s at least that, which is a good story, if nothing else. A whole lot of guys getting their first (and in some cases maybe their only) taste of the Bigs.

        Bartender, rings for everybody.

    • natsguy - Jun 27, 2015 at 2:59 AM

      The real answer is they’ve got nuthin.

  2. TheBigDummy - Jun 27, 2015 at 2:56 AM

    Situations like these are when you love to have a guy like Espinosa on the roster. The guy can play plus defense everywhere and makes it look easy. Plus with him having even an average bat, definitely makes him easy to root for.

    That and the beard growing capabilities. Wish I had those!

    • TheBigDummy - Jun 27, 2015 at 3:01 AM

      I just looked it up and saw that he is a FA after this season. I think he’s a guy that you have to keep, a “glue” guy for lack of a better term.

      Thoughts?

      • zshurs - Jun 27, 2015 at 6:11 AM

        Danny’s not a free agent until after the 2017 season.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 27, 2015 at 1:45 PM

        That and his relative affordability just adds to his value, which is why he’s still here.

  3. natsfan1a - Jun 27, 2015 at 7:13 AM

    Hope that any subsequent imaging and/or exams turn up nothing serious.

    • ArVAFan - Jun 27, 2015 at 8:16 AM

      Yeah, and hope they do it as soon as possible–don’t need a repeat of Espinosa and Werth! Understand that they may need to wait a few days until the swelling goes down.

      • ehay2k - Jun 27, 2015 at 10:40 AM

        Bingo! Werth’s wrist wasn’t broken according to multiple examinations, until it was. Get a 2nd and third opinion on Yunel’s wrist, to make sure it gets the right treatment. We cannot afford to lose Escobar for a long stretch.

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