For a brief, frightening moment Wednesday afternoon, Danny Espinosa thought his season might be over. Matt Cain’s 94-mph fastball hit him flush in the top of the left hand – “it did not glance me at all,” Espinosa said – and Espinosa dropped his bat, spun out of the box, keeled over and rushed to rip his batting glove off.
“When it happened, I thought it was broken,” Espinosa said today. “Pretty close to ending the season right there. I was pretty scared.”
Shortly thereafter, though, Espinosa felt relief. Espinosa received an X-ray on his hand after the game yesterday and the results came back negative. Espinosa is in the lineup tonight, a relief after the way he reacted at first yesterday. Espinosa’s hand is swollen and bruised, but he said his still has full grip strength, and after he received the x-ray he knew he could play tonight.
“Once I took my glove off, I knew it wasn’t broken,” Espinosa said. “After I went back into the clubhouse and actually sat down and started moving my fingers and nothing hurt, I was like ‘I got lucky.’ ”
Espinosa had two injury scares in spring training, too, once when he was hit in the helmet by a fastball and once when he fouled a ball hard off his foot and had to be carried into the clubhouse.
“This one scared me the most, for sure,” Espinosa said. “I thought it was broken, 100 percent. I thought it was broken.”
Espinosa had an issue with the way the game ended, aside from his sore hand. The umpiring crew ruled he had swung and the ball hit only his hand, which is why they called strike three and ended the game. “But if you actually look at the replay,” Espinosa said, “I don’t think I was close to swinging.” On the replay, it does appear Espinosa checked his swing, and then moved his bat forward reacting to the pain of getting drilled, not in an actual swing.
The umpiring crew’s actions at the end of the game still had many Nationals stewing today. Some felt they called the strike simply because ending the game was the easiest option. Others were miffed that they dismissed Manager Jim Riggleman when he asked for an explanation and simply walked off the field.
It may have been a frustrating end, but it could have been a lot worse.