Posted on May 20, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine

Washington Nationals Howie Kendrick

Image via latimes.com

In the midst of losing both games of a doubleheader to the Dodgers on Saturday, the Washington Nationals had injury added to insult. The Nationals have lost veteran utility man Howie Kendrick for the rest of the season. Kendrick suffered a torn Achilles during the first game the Nats and Dodgers played Saturday. It’s the latest in a string of injuries that has decimated Washington’s roster this season.

Kendrick was hurt in the 8th inning while catching a fly ball on the warning track just. After making the catch, Kendrick turned to throw the ball but appeared to land awkwardly. He immediately went to the ground and needed to be carted off the field.

“Once I tried to put weight on it, I couldn’t put any weight on it, really, and then I was like, ‘Oh, crap, I’d better just sit down,'” Kendrick explained. “That’s when I really knew there was something wrong.”

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The Nationals actually placed Kendrick on the DL during the time in between Saturday’s two games. An MRI revealed that Kendrick has torn his right Achilles tendon. He will undergo surgery this week that will effectively end his season.

While Kendrick was playing left field on Saturday, he’s spent most of the season serving as Washington’s second baseman. Daniel Murphy has been on the DL all season following offseason knee surgery. Up to this point, Kendrick has done a great job of filling in for him, hitting .303 with an OPS of .805. Of course, with Adam Eaton and Brian Goodwin on the DL as well, Kendrick was also needed for some reps in the outfield, making him an invaluable part of Washington’s roster.

“It’s a huge loss,” Bryce Harper said of Kendrick’s injury. “He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever played with, such a great guy in the clubhouse, great guy on the field. Shows up every single day, same guy, same mentality.”

The loss of Kendrick leaves the Nationals shorthanded in both the infield and outfield. Light-hitting Wilmer Difo figures to become Washington’s primary second baseman for the time being. Murphy is only starting to ramp up his activity, so it’ll be at least a few more weeks until he’s ready to return.

Meanwhile, left field will continue to be a group effort with Harper in right field and Michael Taylor in center field. Andrew Stevenson, Matt Adams, and Moises Sierra figure to split time there until the team’s health improves. Of course, Adams is helping to fill-in for the injured Ryan Zimmerman at first base. Neither Sierra or Stevenson has produced much offensively this year.

There is no timetable for when either Eaton or Goodwin could return to the Nationals. At the same time, outfield prospects Victor Robles and Rafael Bautista are both on the DL in the minors. The Nationals are reportedly planning to call up Juan Soto, their no.2 prospect, straight from double-A to help reinforce their outfield. Whether the 19-year old Soto is ready to produce in the big leagues remains to be seen.

With Kendrick, the Nationals have lost their most productive hitter outside of Harper and Adams. The defensive versatility he brought to the table stings just as much. Despite all the injuries, the Nationals have managed to stay within striking distance inside the NL East. However, at a certain point, all the injuries could become too much for Washington to keep pace.

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