“One swing and I felt something that I’ve never felt before,” Heisey said.
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Heisey said he is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam Thursday. Doctors will then decide whether surgery is necessary or if he can proceed with only rehab. Either way, the 32-year-old Heisey emphasized the injury won’t end his season.
“It’s tough. Even though I wasn’t playing very well, it’s still fun to be a part of the team and feel like at any moment I’m able get in there and help the team,” Heisey said. “It’s tough. I don’t think by any means this is like out for the season kind of thing. That’s the good news. I will be back at some point. That kind of gives me a little bit of hope. It’s not like you’re gone for the year. At least I got that to hang on to. Hopefully when I come back I’ll be better than new and really contribute.”
Said Manager Dusty Baker: “Usually these things don’t just happen. It’s through the course of time. It’s sad that it happened to such a good guy. The guy’s one of the spiritual leaders of the team. We’ll just rally around him like we did Eaton and the other guys have to step up.
The Nationals called up Brian Goodwin to take Heisey’s roster spot. Goodwin had been optioned to Class AAA Syracuse on Tuesday to make room on the roster for Joe Ross, but was still in the area because he wasn’t scheduled to fly out until Thursday. He arrived at Nationals Park at 6:15 p.m. and was available to play, but didn’t in Washington’s win. The 26-year-old is batting .188 with a .548 OPS in 17 plate appearances with the Nationals, appearing in left field and center field.
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The bulk of Heisey’s value — besides his clubhouse presence — lies in his pinch-hitting ability. A 17th-round pick in 2006, he has 14 career pinch-hit home runs, the most in baseball since he broke into the majors in 2010. He showcased his knack with a homer in Game 5 of the NLDS last October. This season, however, Heisey is 0 for 14 with a walk in the role while batting .128 with a .393 OPS overall.
Heisey still represented a power threat from the right side. The Nationals, as constituted Thursday night, don’t have one. Replacing Heisey with Goodwin leaves Washington with a bench consisting of Goodwin, Adam Lind, Wilmer Difo, and Jose Lobaton. Goodwin and Lind are left-handed hitters. Difo and Lobaton are switch-hitters. Difo and Lobaton aren’t power threats. Lind, who leads the majors with three pinch-hit home runs, is the only slugging source on the bench until Stephen Drew, another left-handed hitter, returns from injury.
Washington could address the need internally when it eventually returns to a normal five-man bench. One option is utilityman Brandon Snyder. The right-handed-hitting former All-Met is batting .254 with nine home runs and an .843 OPS in 39 games for Syracuse. He has started two games at first base, three at second, seven at third, nine as the designated hitter, 12 in left field, and five in right this season after joining the Nationals organization as a nonroster invite to spring training. He can also serve as an emergency catcher.
Snyder, 30, has appeared in 120 major league games for four teams over five seasons. He batted .239 with a .907 OPS in 37 games while playing first base, second base, and left field for the Braves last year. The Nationals would need to vacate a spot on their 40-man roster for Snyder. One way to do that is transferring Adam Eaton, who is out for the season, from the 10-day to the 60-day disabled list.
Rafael Bautista is another right-handed-hitting outfield option who is already on the 40-man roster, but he exited Syracuse’s game Tuesday with a leg injury.