PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals' offense has been clicking on all cylinders lately, largely thanks to the fact that they finally had all their players healthy.
That's suddenly not the case anymore.
Ian Desmond was scratched from tonight's game (albeit for precautionary reasons) because of a right knee injury, and less than 10 minutes after first pitch, Michael Morse had to leave after being hit in the right hand with a pitch.
Morse took an 84 mph Kyle Kendrick changeup squarely on his hand and immediately turned away from the plate in pain.
He was attended to by a team trainer and then came off the field, walking slowly into the clubhouse for further observation.
Roger Bernadina replaced Morse as a pinch-runner and will play left field.
Morse has been a force in the middle of the Nationals' order since returning from a strained lat which knocked him out for the first two months of the season. He's batting .286 with 12 home runs and 45 RBIs in 72 games since his return, and has safely in 26 of the Nationals' last 29 games.
Update: The Nationals have announced that Morse suffered a right hand contusion, which is a fancy word for a bruise. No word on if Morse has had X-rays yet, but if it is, in fact, just a contusion, the Nats might have caught a break here.
No pun intended.
Since we're talking injuries, this is a good space to pass along word from GM Mike Rizzo that 2012 first-round pick Lucas Giolito will have Tommy John surgery at the end of this month.
Giolito, whose senior year of high school was cut short due to a strained UCL in his throwing elbow, suffered a complete tear of the ligament during his first start in the Nationals' organization, which came with the Gulf Coast League Nats last Tuesday. The 18-year-old met with Dr. Lewis Yocum, who confirmed the team's diagnosis and recommended surgery.
"After we drafted him, we were well aware of the possibilities of the elbow injury and we tried to test the waters and have him throw in Instructional League rehab and let it loose and see where we were at," Rizzo said. "He did it and he felt some pain, so we had him checked out by our doctor. They saw that he had a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament. We got a second opinion from Dr. Yocum and he seconded the diagnosis of our team doctor and he scheduled him to have the surgery at the end of August.
"We felt that worst-case scenario, he would have Tommy John surgery and we would have a really good player at the age of 19 and the upside and the risk of taking him was minimized by the downside of it being Tommy John surgery. If it's done by a quality surgeon, which it will be, and he rehabs with quality people, which it will be, we feel that he'll have a quality bounce-back season and we have a long list of Tommy John rehab success stories."
Giolito, who the Nats selected with the No. 16 overall pick in this year's draft, was weighing the Nationals' contract offer against a collegiate commitment to UCLA. He signed with the Nats just prior to the July 13 deadline and started rehabbing down at the organization's minor league complex in Viera prior to feeling some soreness in the eblow during that start last Tuesday.
"I think he feels relieved that he's with the Washington Nationals," Rizzo said. "I think he'd be at UCLA if we weren't the team that drafted him. He knows that we care about our players, he knows that we're gonna get this fixed and rehab him and he feels very confident he's gonna bounce back and pitch in Washington real soon."