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Posted at 09:17 PM ET, 06/08/2011

Danny Espinosa hit in hand in strange Nationals-Giants finish


UPDATED, 9:20: We may find out more tomorrow, but for now the first signs are good for Danny Espinosa after his scary moment at the end of the game: He has told Manager Jim Riggleman that he’s “fine” and wants to play tomorrow.

Danny Espinosa ended today’s 3-1 loss to the Giants in painful fashion, leaving the Nationals hoping the baseball that hit him in the hand will provide momentary discomfort and not a devastating blow to a lineup that can not afford it.

Espinosa swung at an inside, 92-mph fastball from Matt Cain that bored in on his hands. The ball drilled him in the bottom of his right hand, and after he toward first base he keeled over and grabbed his hand.

After the game, Espinosa wore a bandage on his hand, but he was able to pack his things in a suitcase. Approached by a reporter, Espinosa preemptively said, “I don’t want to talk.” A Nationals spokesman did not know if the team had planned for X-rays of Espinosa’s hand.

“I don’t know yet” about the severity of the damage, Manager Jim Riggleman said. “It’s too early to tell. He got hit pretty god.”

While there is no indication at the moment that Espinosa will miss time, if the hit by pitch proves to be serious it would be a brutal development for the Nationals to swallow. He has been perhaps their best player, leading them with 10 home runs and, according to FanGraphs.com, 2.1 wins above replacement. With an even 100 games remaining in the season, Espinosa has become a strong contender for National League rookie of the year.

Espinosa has found himself frequently dodging pitches in his rookie season — he’s been hit 12 times, most in the league.

The play itself left the Nationals miffed. With two outs in the ninth, Espinosa swung at the 2-2 pitch. The ball hit his hand, but if it hit any part of the bat, it would also be a foul ball. If it hit only his hand, it would be a strike. After a few-second delay, home plate umpire Gerry Davis called it a strike, and the game ended.

Manager Jim Riggleman and first base coach Dan Radison tried to get an explanation and wanted to ask if the ball hit the bat, but Riggleman said the umpiring simply turned and walked off the field.

“I wasn’t going to argue with him,” Riggleman said. “I just wanted a very explanation, and I didn’t get it. The way it went out there, I felt like maybe it hit the bat also, and that’s what I was trying to get some help on. ‘We don’t have to run off the field right now. We can take some time here to talk about this.’ You can’t walk off the field. I’m just trying to ask the umpires for somewhat of a length explanation other than, ‘It hit him,’ and they walk away.”

By  |  09:17 PM ET, 06/08/2011

 
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