Laynce Nix had already hit a single, drilled a double off the wall and crushed his 12th home run of the season when he came to bat in the seventh inning last night. He rolled another single through the infield, his fourth hit of the game. Nix had again shown an example of why he had gone from a non-roster free agent this spring to the Nationals’ regular cleanup hitter.
But as he stood on first, Nix again felt the pain that’s threatening to dampen his season. He left a game for the second time in a week with soreness in his right Achilles’ tendon, and he will not play today, either.
“His Achilles’ tightened up,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “I probably won’t play him tomorrow. I can’t afford to hurt him worse.”
Nix was not available for comment after the game, so it’s hard to know the severity of his latest setback with his Achilles’. He has been playing through the nagging injury for basically the entire. If he has to miss extended time, the Nationals will be hard pressed to replace his production in the lineup.
Rick Ankiel played five innings a Gulf Coast League game yesterday, so he seems to be nearing a return from the disabled. But he’s also hit .204/.271/.276 in 168 plate appearances this season. The Nationals could use Jerry Hairston and/or Brian Bixler in left field, but they both make the Nationals’ lineup more right-handed and can’t come close to matching Nix’s power – Bixler has one extra-base hit in 37 at-bats and Hairston is slugging .354.
Again, Nix could just miss today’s game and rest on Thursday’s off day and get right back into the lineup Friday against the Pirates. But the phrase “recurring Achilles’ injury” does not engender much confidence. The potential blow of losing Nix shows how valuable he’s become to the Nationals. He’s hit .286/.317/.534, and his .851 OPS ranks second on the Nationals behind only Michael Morse. Only Morse and Espinosa have hit more homers. Nix has not gotten much of a chance against lefties, but against right-handed pitching his .571 slugging percentage ranks sixth in the National League.
Nix’s presence in spring training was hardly noticed. Now, at the of June, his absence would stand out.
FROM THE POST
The Nationals played a game they’ll try to forget in an 11-5 loss to the Angels, making five errors.
From Lynchburg, Va., Dave Sheinin tells the story of Luis Salazar, the Braves minor league coach who lost an eye after getting his with a foul ball this spring.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 8, Indianapolis 5: Chris Marreor went 3 for 4 with a walk. Seth Bynum went 3 for 4 with a double. Zech Zincola pitched two perfect relief innings, striking out three.
Harrisburg was postponed.
Kinston 4, Potomac 3 (12 innings): J.P. Ramirez went 3 for 5 with a home run and a double. Cutter Dykstra went 2 for 5 with a double.
Hagerstown 4, Lakewood 3 (14 innings ): Bryce Harper did not play. Kevin Keyes went 3 for 6 with two home runs. He has seven homers in his last eight games. In his last 10 games, Keyes is slugging .897.
Auburn 6, Williamsport 1: Angelberth Montilla went 2 for 3. Matt Skole went 1 for 3. Wirkin Estevez allowed one run in five innings on four hits hits and a walk, strking out five.