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Monday, April 28, 2014

Nationals Injury Updates: Bryce Harper, Doug Fister, Danny Espinosa, Taylor Jordan, Wilson Ramos, Scott Hairston

By on 4/28/2014 10:30:00 AM

The Washington Nationals (14-12) may lose another player for a few days, as second baseman Danny Espinosa was hit in the kneecap by a pitch in the fourth inning of last night's loss to the San Diego Padres (12-14). Espinosa said he could see the seams of the baseball in his knee but does not believe he will miss any time, reports Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider. The Nationals will evaluate Espinosa on Tuesday prior to their next game with the Houston Astros. Starter Taylor Jordan also left the game early. His velocity and command suffered as he labored through four innings with a low-grade fever. Continued...

Bryce Harper (left fielder). Manager Matt Williams refused to commit himself on the length of Bryce Harper's DL stint. Harper sprained his left thumb sliding into third base in Friday's game against the Padres. Although X-rays were negative, an MRI and consultation with a hand specialist on Saturday led the Nationals to place Harper on the 15-day DL. The team is concerned enough about the injury to send the young outfielder to the Cleveland Clinic for further evaluation, writes Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post. Harper sprained his thumb in a similar manner in high school. Williams said there appears to be laxity along with swelling in Harper’s thumb, possibly a product the earlier injury, which he has played with for years. The second opinion will help determine how much new damage is present.
We fear that he’s got a really bad problem with the thumb,” Williams said. He added later, “the prognosis, we just don’t know yet.”
Harper was hitting .289/.352/.422 with seven extra-base hits (one home run) and nine RBI before the injury.

Doug Fister (RHP). The results are in for starter Doug Fister's first rehab start, and they are good. Fister threw four innings in Single-A Potomac, according to James Wagner of The Washington Post, who covered the game. Fister threw 59 pitches, 42 for strikes, over four innings. He struck out three batters, walked none and allowed six hits.
I felt really good,” Fister said. “I felt strong. I felt like I was going back out there for another couple innings. That’s a definite positive for me, mentally and physically. A step in the right direction and looking forward to the next one...No discomfort. No anything. Felt loose where I needed it to be.”
The next step is another rehab start, with a goal of 75 pitches in five innings. If there are no "hiccups," Fister could join the Nats on May 7 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Wilson Ramos (catcher). Fister could pitch to Wilson Ramos, who is rehabbing from hand surgery. Kilgore reports that on  Saturday afternoon, Ramos caught pitches and made throws to second base for the first time. Ramos said he plans to take at-bats in extended spring training games Monday and Tuesday then play four rehab games at Class AA Harrisburg, and join the team for the Dodgers series May 5-7.

Scott Hairston (backup outfielder). Hairston, who has been on the DL since April 6 with a strained left oblique, will also spend a few days in Florida and then head to Harrisburg for rehab games.

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Espinosa, who had a lost season in 2013 due to injuries and underperformance, has started off with a solid 2014. Playing regularly at second base due to Ryan Zimmerman's injury, Espinosa is hitting .282/.333.465 with two home runs, two stolen bases, and five RBI, while providing Gold-Glove calibre defense. Espinosa does have a propensity for getting on base by way of the HBP, leading the league with 19 in 2011; getting hit in the wrist was part of the reason for his poor 2013.

Now in his age-27 season, Espinosa was selected by the Nationals in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft, making his debut on August 1, 2010. He is pre-arb and under team control through the 2017 season. 

Taylor Jordan's 2014 season has been below average, with a 0-3 record and a 5.63 ERA in five starts. With his competition for a spot in the rotation, Tanner Roark, throwing a compete game shutout on Saturday, it's expected Jordan will be sent to Triple-A Syracuse when Doug Fister is activated. 

Jordan, 25, a 9th round draft pick in 2009, was promoted to the majors in June 2013, making nine starts with a 3.66 ERA. He was shut down for the season after 52 innings with a lower back strain in August. Jordan spent the 2012 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. He is pre-arb and under team control through the 2019 season. 

Bryce Harper, 21, known for his agressive style of play, was the Nationals 2010 first-round draft pick, making his major-league debut on April 28, 2012. He is a two-time All-Star and 2012 NL Rookie of the Year. He is under team control through the 2018 season.

Doug Fister, who missed most of  Spring Training with a strained lat (and before that an inflammed elbow), gave his previous team (the Detroit Tigers) over 200 innings in 2013, pitching to a 14-9 record with a 3.67 ERA. When Fister returns, he along with Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, and probably Tanner Roak will form the Nationals rotation. 

Now in his age-30 season, Fister was originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2006 (7th round). The Mariners traded him, with David Pauley, to the Detroit Tigers for Francisco Martinez (minors), Charlie Furbush, Casper Wells, and Chance Ruffin. In December of 2013, to the surprise of almost everyone, the  Detroit Tigers traded Fister to the Washington Nationals in exchange for for Robbie Ray (minors), LH reliever Ian Krol and utility infielder Steve Lombardozzi. Fister is in his second year of arbitration ($7.2M), and eligible for free agency after the 2015 season. 

When Wilson Ramos is healthy, he is productive. In 2013 (78 games) Ramos slashed .272/.307/.470 (OPS+ 112) with 16 home runs and 59 RBI. Hoever, in addition to the broken hand to start the 2014 season, severe damage to his knee (meniscus), which required two surgeries to repair, cost Ramos most of the 2012 season; a hamstring injury put him out of action for 60 games in 2013.

In Ramos' absence, the Nationals have used Jose Lobaton, acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays during the off-season) as primary catcher and Sandy Leon as backup.

Ramos, 26, was signed by the Minnesota Twins in 2004 as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela. The Twins traded him to the Washington Nationals for closer Matt Capps in July 2010; he is under team control through 2016. Ramos was kidnapped near his home in Venezuala in November of 2011; he was released three days later in a military-style operation.

Scott Hairston, 34, a career .244 hitter with a little "pop" in his bat (especially against left-handed pitchers), was acquired from the Chicago Cubs in a July 2013 trade to be a backup outfielder and pinch hitter. The 11-year veteran (Diamondbacks, Padres, Athletics, Mets, Cubs) is signed through 2014 on a 2-year $5 million contract.

  (Rose Ingberman) and read her blog Lady and the Nats

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