Laynce Nix was out of the lineup tonight against Atlanta in order to rest his sore right Achilles’ tendon, but Manager Davey Johnson indicated the Nationals’ starting left fielder probably won’t need surgery and that rest and treatment would be enough to get him through the season.
The first sign of discomfort began roughly three months ago, Nix said recently, and he missed two games in a week toward the end of last month. On June 21, he left after the seventh inning of Washington’s 6-5 victory over Seattle. He felt the back of his heel stiffen again in an 11-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on June 28, and he left after collecting his fourth hit.
“He’s fine. He’s in good shape. He’s a good athlete, strong,” Johnson said of Nix. “Anytime something’s wrong with your foundation, that can cause some problems. For hitting and running, that’s the most important thing, your wheels. An Achilles’ tendon, I can’t imagine anything worse.”
It’s unclear how much the injury has affected Nix at the plate, but this month he is hitting .200 with no home runs and three RBI. Nix’s last homer came in that loss to the Angels, and since then extensive medical testing revealed the injury wouldn’t get worse if he continued to play.
In last night’s 11-1 loss to the Braves, Nix went 1 for 4 with a double. Johnson said this afternoon he wasn’t going to play Nix back-to-back in a night game followed by an afternoon start, so he opted to rest him today so he could play twice in this important series.
The injury, according to doctors, will improve only with rest, which means Nix most likely won’t be fully healthy until the start of next season. But so long as Nix is able to play without tremendous discomfort, Johnson said he would use continue to use the non-roster free agent who worked his way into the lineup as the regular cleanup hitter.
“Hopefully we can nurse it through the year,” Johnson said. “He’s doing great. He had a nice hit last night. We couldn’t get him in, but I think it’s going to be something that I think is going to take quite a while to heal up completely.”