Nationals injuries begin to pile up with Soto, Adams out of lineup

May 5, 2019

Jake Noll was thrust into duty for the Washington Nationals Sunday in Philadelphia. After all, the rules require teams to field a first baseman, no matter their paucity of options at the position.

Noll was recalled from Triple-A after first baseman Matt Adams injured his shoulder diving to make an out in Saturday’s win over the Phillies. Adams, in turn, was in the lineup because regular first baseman Ryan Zimmerman is battling plantar fasciitis in his foot.

Adams joined Zimmerman, Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner on the injured list Sunday, which reads like a who’s-who of Nationals position players in the post-Bryce Harper era.

Though “injuries aren’t an excuse” is a familiar refrain in the sports world, the Nationals’ offense has suffered as a result, scoring three runs or fewer in eight of their last 10 games. The early-season spotlight focused on Washington’s bullpen woes, but more recently the glaring weakness has been a lack of run support for starting pitchers like 1-4 Max Scherzer.

Turner, coming off a career year with 73 RBI in 2018, hasn’t taken his usual post at shortstop since April 2, the night he broke his finger in an unlucky bunt attempt. Since then, Rendon (elbow contusion), Soto (back spasms), Zimmerman and Adams all landed on the IL in the last week alone.

Outfielder Michael A. Taylor also exited Saturday’s game with a smarting wrist, having bent his glove hand awkwardly on the ground while diving for a ball.

While he wasn’t yet placed on the injured list at press time, Taylor missed Sunday’s game too. So the Nationals’ lineup Sunday consisted of the likes of Andrew Stevenson, Wilmer Difo and Noll who allowed two runs on an error in the 7-1 loss.

A few players have stood out for Washington amid the turmoil. Carter Kieboom, who was the top prospect in the Nationals’ farm system before his call-up April 26, homered in two of his first MLB games but has cooled off considerably since. More recently, catcher Kurt Suzuki went yard in three consecutive games.

“Obviously, injuries and all whatnot are kind of taking a toll on us, but you’ve got to go out there and play,” Suzuki told MASN Saturday. “We’re all big-leaguers here. We come out every day to play to win and we’ve just got to keep fighting.”

In one other bright spot, manager Dave Martinez told reporters that the team expects Rendon back in the lineup Tuesday, the day he’s eligible to come off the IL. The Nationals can only hope Rendon’s presence galvanizes their collective effort at the plate.