The Nationals’ already thin outfield lost another key player today when Howie Kendrick appeared to suffer a significant right lower leg injury making a catch in the top of the eighth inning of the first game of a doubleheader against the Dodgers.
Kendrick retreated to the wall to catch what otherwise was a routine fly ball by Los Angeles first baseman Max Muncy, then threw the ball toward the infield as Justin Turner tagged up from third and scored. Kendrick immediately went down to the ground in pain, as Nationals manager Davey Martinez and a trainer ran from the dugout to check on him.
It appeared that Kendrick may have gotten a spike from his right shoe caught in the metal drainage grate that sits right at the base of the wall and the far edge of the warning track, in the process hurting his lower right leg.
“All he said was he stepped down and he felt something,” Martinez said. “We told him to just stay down.”
The injury was serious enough to require a cart to get Kendrick off the field, behind the center field wall. He did not put any weight on his right leg as he was helped onto the cart.
“It’s awful to witness,” said Tanner Roark, who pitched the first seven innings of today’s loss. “It sucks all around, the year he’s been having and the kind of guy he is. Wants to win and wants to be out there all the time. To see him go down like that is awful.”
The Nationals, did not have any immediate information about Kendrick’s status after the game, other than Martinez saying the injury was to his lower leg and that he was headed for an MRI. But if the 34-year-old needs to miss significant time the club’s outfield corps will be severely diminished.
Adam Eaton (ankle), Brian Goodwin (wrist), Victor Robles (elbow) and Rafael Bautista (knee) all are currently injured, with only Goodwin potentially close to returning from the disabled list. The only healthy true outfielders now on the Nationals’ 40-man roster are Bryce Harper, Michael A. Taylor, Andrew Stevenson and Moisés Sierra, with veteran first basemen Matt Adams and Mark Reynolds also able to play left field if needed.
“It’s definitely a blow,” Martinez said. “But we’ve got to get 25 guys, and those 25 guys have to keep playing. Hopefully we get him back as soon as possible.”
Kendrick has been one of the team’s most consistent hitters this season, entering today’s game with a .302 batting average, four homers and 12 RBIs in 149 at-bats split between left field and second base.
“It’s a huge loss,” Harper said. “Not something you want to see, especially when we need him. Super bummed out, but see what it is and go from there. ...
“He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever played with. Such a great guy in the clubhouse, great guy on the field. Shows up every single day, same guy, same mentality. Like I said, I’m not sure what happened, but I guess we’ll see and go from there.”