The Washington Nationals couldn't get much offense going last night, managing just six hits off six New York Mets pitchers, en route to a 5-2 loss in Grapefruit League play before 6,646 at Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie, FL.
But the big news -- which could have been catastrophic -- was that Danny Espinosa fouled a ball of fhis right foot and had to be helped by team trainers into the clubhouse. As it turned out, the rookie second baseman sustained a contusion to his right foot and is day-to-day.
Espinosa is hitting .324 this spring with two homers and leads the team with 12 RBIs.
Espinosa (1-for-3 before the foul ball) met with reporters after the game to talk about the injury. "I'm walking around, so I don't think it's anything," Espinosa said. "They checked for fractures, checked for anything, and said it was good."
"It hurts, and [I] might be limping for a couple days, but I wasn't too worried that it was broken."
"If I had to play, I could play," the game Espinosa explained. "There’s a still job to win, so I’m going to get back as fast as I can and do that.”
The sound you hear is the collective breath of NatsTown, exhaling.
The Nats, as designed, are young in certain areas, but nowhere as glaring as middle infield. Were Espinosa -- or shortstop Ian Desmond, for that matter -- to go down injured, 35 year old Jerry Hairston, Jr. would become the de facto starter. At this point inhis career, Hairston sets up much better as a backup and platoon for a left-handed hitting outfielder, not necessarily as an everyday option in the middle infield.
Hairston did log 430 at bats fro San Diego last season, hitting .257/.325/.370 with 10 homers and 50 RBIs, so he is capable of some production. But the Nats are counting on Espinosa to become a vital part of this team -- both offensively and defensively -- and hope that after 600 or so at bats this season he can be counted on to be part of the Nats first winning team in the near future.
GAME NOTES: Tom Gorzelanny fared much better in his second spring start than his first outing against Houston.
The lefty went four innings, allowing one earned run on two hits and three walks, striking out four. That's just about as efficient as Gorzy gets. He's always had problems with the bases on balls, and to expect that to change at this point in his career is folly.
Craig Stammen took the loss. He allowed three earned runs on four hits and a walk with no strikeouts in one and two-thirds innings.
Henry Rodriguez, behind the other pitchers due to his delayed start to camp because of visa issues, gave up a run on two hits in his inning of work.
Ryan Zimmerman was scratched from the start due to a strained hamstring, and the team has said the team leader will miss about five days with the injury. Zimmerman missed a handful of games last week with a strained oblique muscle.
***Quotes for this story were found in published reports, including MLB.com and MASN.com.