Riley Adams wasn’t overly concerned in the moment when he fouled off a pitch Wednesday night and felt something wrong with his left wrist. That’s not uncommon. Then he tried to take a practice swing.
“I went to grab the bat again, and it certainly felt more painful than I’ve experienced before,” the Nationals catcher said. “That’s when I was thinking something was up.”
Sure enough, Adams learned Thursday he had fractured the hamate bone in his wrist, an injury that will require surgery Monday and will end his season 3 1/2 weeks before he wanted. The Nats placed him on the 10-day injured list today and recalled second baseman Luis García from Triple-A Rochester to take his roster spot.
It’s a tough, and abrupt, end to a promising season for Adams. The 27-year-old finished with 159 plate appearances over 48 games as Keibert Ruiz’s backup behind the plate, hitting .273 with 13 doubles, two triples, four homers, 21 RBIs and an .807 OPS.
Hamate fractures, while frustrating, typically heal in six to eight weeks. That affords Adams plenty of time to recover and begin his offseason training program with no ill effects, though hitters have been known to need more time to see their power return once back playing on a daily basis.
“There’s never a good time to be hurt, but now I’m not rushing to try to get back,” he said. “I’m not trying to potentially bring more injury in by being too quick. I can take my time. I don’t see this really affecting much of the offseason plan, and the work I’m going to do to get ready for next year”
With Adams out, rookie Drew Millas is likely to see more playing time behind the plate than initially planned when he was promoted from Triple-A two weeks ago. Manager Davey Martinez said Millas will start either Saturday or Sunday against the Dodgers, with Ruiz sitting on the bench. He may not use both in the lineup on the same day, with Ruiz serving as designated hitter, as he began to do regularly with Ruiz and Adams.
García, meanwhile, returns to the majors five weeks after he was demoted to Rochester in a move that surprised many, including the 23-year-old.
At the time, García was batting .259/.299/.362 across 407 plate appearances, but those numbers were down to .196/.227/.272 over the previous month. The Nationals sent him to Rochester wanting to see not only in-game improvements but especially improvement in his pregame work.
“He went down there and did everything we asked him to do,” Martinez said. “Looks great. He was playing a lot better, playing with a lot of intensity, showing up early to the ballpark, getting all his work done.”
García, who hit .268/.315/.381 in 25 games at Triple-A, admitted the demotion caught him off-guard. But once he reported to his new team, he embraced what club officials asked of him and worked to earn his way back to the majors.
“I can’t say that initially I was very happy with the decision,” García said, via interpreter Octavio Martinez. “More, I guess, I didn’t understand it. But on my drive to Scranton … I started just kind of thinking about it and realized that it’s part of the game to help me, so that I can improve in certain aspects of my game. And I looked at it that way. And I went down there to work, and it's a learning experience. And I feel like I did that, but I'm back up here trying to just do what I can to finish strong.”
Martinez said García will start at second base against right-handed pitchers for now, with the possibility he’ll also face left-handers before season’s end. Jake Alu, who had assumed the primary job at second base in recent weeks, will see more time in left field and third base now.
* Lane Thomas is out of the lineup for the third straight game, but the right fielder said his back is significantly improved, and he appears to be on track to return to the lineup Saturday.
Thomas, who hurt himself last week in Toronto, missed the first game of the Nationals’ current homestand but then played the next three and homered in each of them. He then missed both games of a series against the Marlins and now will miss the opener against the Dodgers.
Thomas did take batting practice, shagged fly balls and ran the bases this afternoon and told Martinez he would be able to pinch-hit tonight if needed.