MIAMI — The Washington Nationals have watched their starting left fielder, right fielder, catcher, closer, third baseman, two right-handed relievers, back-up catcher, veteran utility man, and center fielder all hit the disabled list at some point this season.
Now they can add their top bat off the bench. Chad Tracy will have surgery Thursday to repair a torn right adductor muscle and will miss at least 6-8 weeks. Tracy, who underwent double sports hernia surgery this past offseason, traveled to Philadelphia on Tuesday to see Dr. Bill Meyers, who found the muscle torn off the bone, manager Davey Johnson said.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Johnson said of the Nationals seemingly unbelievable injurious run. “I’m kind of a dinosaur, but it’s kind of weird.”
Tracy became the 12th player the Nationals placed on the disabled list this season, and first baseman Adam LaRoche never needed one officially but missed four games with oblique soreness himself. Currently, C\catcher Jesus Flores is hoping to avoid it as well with some right hamstring soreness.
But Tracy, while not an everyday player, may be one of the toughest for the Nationals to replace internally. He led the major leagues in pinch-hit RBI with nine and was Johnson’s first bat off the bench against a right-handed pitcher. The Nationals bench combined for 14 RBI in 204 at-bats in 2011. Tracy had nine in 18 this year.
“Let me tell you, everybody is looking for a Chad Tracy,” Johnson said. “We’re no different.”
For now, the Nationals will hope that DeRosa, who Johnson said is improving from a left oblique strain and he’s hopeful might be able to return on the team’s upcoming homestand, will help to fill Tracy’s void, albeit right-handed.
Corey Brown and Roger Bernadina will be called upon to get the left-handed at-bats that normally would have gone to Tracy. But they also may be in the market. Johnson said his interested was piqued a few weeks ago when he noticed the Blue Jays were removing Adam Lind from their major league roster.
“You need a veteran player that’s been down that road,” Johnson said. “That’s [Tracy] … But we have a lot of confidence in Brownie. He swung the bat really good in spring training. He and Bernie can pick up the slack.”
– In other injury news, Johnson said Sandy Leon, who suffered a high right ankle sprain four innings into his major league debut, got his boot removed and “it should go quickly after that,” Johnson said.
“The danger is really over after that, after he doesn’t have to have it immobilized,” Johnson said. “I would think he’ll probably be back in two weeks.”
The Nationals have not decided yet whether he will return to the major league roster or be optioned back to the minor leagues.