A player’s major league debut is supposed to be a thrilling time in his life, a day he’ll never forget.
Unfortunately, years from now, Sandy Leon will not look back too fondly on his first-ever game in the big leagues.
Manager Davey Johnson announced after today’s game that Leon suffered a high right ankle sprain when he was run into at the plate by Padres third baseman Chase Headley in the fourth inning, an injury which will land Leon on the DL just a day after he was officially activated onto the Nationals’ roster.
The Nats will recall catcher Carlos Maldonado from Triple-A Syracuse to back up Jesus Flores for tomorrow’s game. They will also need to make a move to clear a spot for Maldonado on the 40-man roster.
“I think it’s pretty bad,” Johnson said of Leon’s injury. “Such an outstanding young man. His first big league game, all pumped up and have to get hurt in his first game. That’s tough.”
Leon had just one at-bat today prior to his injury; he struck out looking in the second. He appeared in the Nats’ clubhouse postgame with a giant boot on his right leg that came up nearly to his knee, and had the leg resting on a stool of sorts, which was on wheels.
The 23-year-old kindly declined to talk to reporters after the game.
A high ankle sprain is more serious than the low variety and takes longer to recover. It’s unknown at this point how long Leon will be out.
Those in the Nationals’ clubhouse all felt Headley’s decision to run into Leon was a clean one, considering the catcher had the entire plate blocked off.
Headley showed remorse when asked about the incident after the game.
“I thought it was a clean play, and I’m sorry it resulted the way it did,” he said. “When I was coming in, I was intending to slide. I was even looking to slide to the inside. But there was nowhere to go. He had the plate totally blocked, and the ball wasn’t there yet.”
Leon’s going down continues the run of injuries that the Nationals are suffering. Now they’ve lost two catchers to serious injuries in the span of three games after Wilson Ramos suffered a torn ACL in his right knee on Saturday.
“I mean, what can I say?” Flores said. “It’s really frustrating to watch my teammates going down. It’s like something (is) going on and hopefully it stops happening.”
Johnson said he will start Flores behind the plate tomorrow. According to a tweet from Syracuse play-by-play man Jason Benetti, as of 11:30 p.m. tonight, Maldonado and the rest of the Chiefs are stuck in traffic an hour north of Columbus, Ohio.
Maldonado likely won’t be getting much shuteye tonight.