Bryce Harper and Denard Span, who have played in every Nationals game this season, are out of the lineup against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday because both are dealing with flu-like symptoms. Both haven’t been able to hold down any food and are dehydrated. A doctor was going to evaluate both of them an hour before the game, according to Nationals Manager Davey Johnson.
“I saw Span here earlier,” said Johnson before Tuesday’s game, “and he looked like he needed to go back to bed. Hopefully they’ll have a quick recovery.”
Illness to both outfielders severely hampers a Nationals lineup already without their second baseman, Danny Espinosa, as he deals with a sore right wrist injured when he was hit by a pitch in Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Braves. Espinosa wouldn’t be available for Tuesday’s game, Johnson said. As a result, the Nationals bench is down to two players, infielder Chad Tracy and catcher Jhonatan Solano.
Steve Lombardozzi is starting at second base, Roger Bernadina in center and Tyler Moore in left in their places. But should anything happen — an injury or double switch — Johnson will have very limited options.
Johnson said he even toyed with the idea of playing right-handed Solano in the outfield if needed. Solano, almost exclusively a catcher who last played two games at second base in 2011 in Class AAA Syracuse, played left field for two innings in one game this spring, one of the most memorable moments of spring training. Tracy, a left-handed batter, has played 52 of 853 career games in the outfield, mainly in right field, the last time in 2005.
Because of the lack of available position players, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann took batting practice before the game with Solano. In the clubhouse, relievers laughed among themselves about who would play the outfield if needed. First base coach Tony Tarasco, who coaches the outfielders, joked that he would pick Craig Stammen.
“I asked a couple pitchers, since Sean Burnett’s not here, he used to shag balls all over the outfield, if I needed somebody,” Johnson said. “And there was a debate between Stammen and [Ryan] Mattheus and everybody kind of voted for Mattheus. And then Storen was upset because he felt like he could, too. It was just a conversation that didn’t bear a lot of fruit.”
Before the game, Harper declined to comment. He was in touch with head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz this morning and was up all night because he couldn’t sleep. Span wasn’t in the clubhouse when it was open to reporters, resting and receiving fluids. Johnson was unsure how long either would be out of the lineup. “I hope it’s just a 24-hour flu but with some guys it hangs on for two or three days,” he said.