MRI reveals small tear in shortstop's oblique
Just when the Nationals thought they were close to having their entire roster together for the first time all season, a lingering injury has dashed those hopes.
All-Star shortstop Ian Desmond was diagnosed with a small tear in his left oblique after an MRI on Sunday morning. There's no definitive word on how long he will be lost, but he is expected to go on the 15-day disabled list and could be out for a month or more.
With a .286 batting average, 17 home runs and 53 RBIs, Desmond has been playing effectively through his injury for weeks. But he also said it felt like someone hit him in the side with a bat during a swing in the second game of a doubleheader against Atlanta on Saturday, and Desmond left in the eighth inning as a precaution.
"I was able to play through it up to the All-Star break and then went home and rested," Desmond said. "It felt great and that first initial batting practice back. And then it kind of came back a little bit. I was kind of waiting for it to go away a little bit like it did the first time, and it just stayed. So ... next page."
Danny Espinosa will shift from second base to his natural position at short. That's where he played Sunday. And Steve Lombardozzi, an infielder by trade, will have to "throw away that outfield glove," manager Davey Johnson joked. Lombardozzi has been playing left field much of the season. He shifts to his natural spot at second base.
Veteran Mark DeRosa, who missed about six weeks with his own oblique injury earlier this season, will serve as the primary utility infielder. That's a role he is most comfortable in, too, after being used primarily as a corner outfielder and bench bat when healthy this season.
Corey Brown, a left-handed hitting outfielder with Triple-A Syracuse, was pulled from his minor league game Sunday. He is expected to meet the Nats in New York, where they play the Mets on Monday. Brown, 26, is batting .300 for the Chiefs with 21 home runs and 58 RBIs. He has the second-highest OPS in the International League (.944).