Posted on April 11, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
For the second straight April, Washington Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton finds himself on the DL. The Nationals placed Eaton on the 10-day DL on Wednesday with a bone bruise on his left ankle. The move coincides with the Nationals activating catcher Matt Wieters from the DL. Washington also called up Moises Sierra to supplement their outfield while also designating catcher Miguel Montero for assignment.
Eaton injured his ankle last Thursday while sliding into home plate. He returned to the field the following inning but was soon removed from the game. After a pinch-hitting appearance on Saturday, Eaton returned to the starting lineup on Sunday. However, he has sat out Washington’s last two games and will now head to the DL. Eaton missed most of last season with a knee injury. While the Nationals don’t believe this injury is that serious, there is no firm timetable for his return.
“He hurt it, next day he said he felt good, and then he said it started bothering him,” says Nationals manager Davey Martinez. “We want to be very, very cautious with him right now.”
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The injury is another early-season blow to the Nationals. Eaton has been a key figure thus far, serving as the team’s primary leadoff hitter. He’s currently 10 for 29 (.345) with two home runs and three doubles, giving him an OPS of 1.079. Those numbers include his 0 for 6 performance on Sunday, creating a rather sizable hole at the top of Washington’s lineup.
In Eaton’s absence, Brian Goodwin is expected to get a bulk of the playing time in left field. Goodwin was productive in a part-time role last season and will now be asked to play just about every day. Sierra, a career .243 hitter in a little over 400 big league at-bats, could see playing time against left-handed pitchers. Howie Kendrick could also be an option, but he’s currently deputizing at second base for Daniel Murphy, who remains on the DL. Meanwhile, Trea Turner should become Washington’s primary leadoff hitter.
While Wieters won’t help the Nationals in the leadoff spot, the team is hopeful his return can help to lengthen out their lineup. Wieters went to the DL two games into the season with an oblique strain. But after the minimum of 10 days and just one minor league rehab game, Wieters is ready to return. Wieters works well with Washington’s pitching staff, and the Nationals are hopeful he can rediscover some of the offensive prowess he showed in past seasons with the Orioles.
With Wieters back, the Nationals have chosen to part ways with Montero. The 34-year old veteran is hitless in 11 at-bats this season. Meanwhile, Pedro Severino, who was called up when Wieters initially went on the DL, has been swinging a hot bat. The 24-year old is 7 for 19 with two doubles and three RBIs. He’s also started six of Washington’s last eight games. The Nationals also like his defense behind the plate. If he keeps hitting, Severino could end up getting more playing time than Wieters moving forward.
The Nationals have been up and down to start the season, winning their first four games only to lose their next five. Injuries have certainly played some part in that inconsistency. Even with Wieters coming back from the DL, Eaton joining Murphy on the sidelines could make it tough for the Nationals to find their footing early in the season.