Instead of doing another “Clubhouse Cliff Notes” entry, which I plan on posting Monday mornings when the team is coming off a homestand, I decided to put that aside for now.
There’s just too much to discuss coming out of the Nationals’ exciting three-game series with the Phillies this weekend.
I’ll start with Jayson Werth’s wrist injury, which unfortunately will in some ways overshadow all the fantastic baseball we saw over the past three days. Even a good hour after the game last night, the guys in the Nats’ clubhouse were still dealing with the disappointing news that Werth will almost certainly be sidelined through June.
“Did he break his wrist?” said Bryce Harper, who wasn’t aware of the diagnosis until reporters passed along word. “Holy ... Oh, wow. That sucks.”
“It’s pretty unbelievable,” said infielder Mark DeRosa, who also is sidelined with an injury. “But guys are going to have to step up. The pitchers have done a whale of a job, but we just have to find a way to get the job done even with all the injuries.”
“I’ve obviously never been on a championship team, but I’m definitely a fan of baseball. And it seems like championship teams overcome things like this,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. “So far, we’ve done a good job dealing with the injuries we’ve had. I think the guys that are in-waiting to go out there and play are going to answer the bell.”
Desmond’s message was echoed by nearly everyone in the clubhouse. The Nationals have battled through a seemingly never-ending string of ailments to begin this season, and for the final few innings yesterday, they played without arguably their four best hitters not named Bryce Harper. That’s just ridiculous, when you think about it.
Despite all that’s gone wrong on the injury front, the Nats are still in first place in the National League East, and if they had found a way to pull out another win last night, they’d be tied for the best record in baseball. Going forward, however, the Nats know they’ll need their horses available if they want to make a real run at this thing.
“We talked, shoot, all through spring about pitchers staying healthy and that being a key and obviously it is now even more so,” said Adam LaRoche, who hopes to return from an oblique injury Tuesday. “Either way, we’ve got to have our guys in there, our everyday guys. You can’t be missing three or four of them consistently and plan on winning a ton of games. We’ll see.”
Werth’s injury put a damper on what was an incredibly tight, intense series we just watched, but it doesn’t diminish the significance of these three games.
In my eyes, we might have seen a true rivalry born this weekend. The Nationals always geared up for games against the Phillies, and now, finally, it appears the reigning five-time NL East champs are truly taking their neighbors to the south seriously.
“Usually, it seems that the Phillies aren’t that hyped up to come play us,” Desmond said. “I think they realized that they needed to step up a little bit, and that’s nice. It’s nice to have that feeling of, ‘Hey, they’re intense over there.’ Usually when we play them, they’re not. And I think they realize we’ve got a good ballclub, and they needed to kind of take it up a notch.”
“They’re the team on top right now and we’ve got to catch up,” Cole Hamels said. “Their team is starting to peak into a really good competitive team. The Mets have gone the other direction and the Nationals have come up. It’s going to be really exciting to see - we have 15 more games against them and it’s going to be a really good series.”