Den Dekker makes most of first start
In the midst of a topsy-turvy couple months, outfielder Matt den Dekker found himself plopped him into the Washington Nationals’ starting lineup Friday night with about an hour’s notice. The 27-year-old should be used to such last-minute changes by now: He battled for a spot on the Mets’ roster throughout spring training only to be sent to the Nationals a week before opening day in the trade that sent Jerry Blevins to New York. When the season began, he was off to Class AAA Syracuse, a new home in a new organization— all with about a week to adjust.
Called on when Denard Span’s back locked up before the game, den Dekker made his first start for Washington on Friday night. His limited preparation seemed like plenty. He hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning to provide insurance that loomed large in the 5-2 win. It was his first home run as a National and the second of his major league career.
“It felt great,” den Dekker said. “I was glad I could get into a game and help the team out and be a part of a win.”
Den Dekker went to Westminster Academy in Florida, where he was an upperclassman when Michael A. Taylor, then a shortstop, joined the team. The two played alongside each other in a patched-up Nationals outfield Friday night and combined for three of the Nationals’ runs.
Injury woes continue
The lineup is normally posted four hours or so before a game. One o’clock came and went Saturday, two hours before game time, and no lineup came with it.
Injuries caused the delay. Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon are on the disabled list, three starters all unavailable. Bryce Harper, Span and Yunel Escobar are all banged up, though technically active. Nationals Manager Matt Williams was waiting to see which of that trio might be able to play Saturday. Ultimately, none of them were in the lineup posted around 1:30 p.m.
Of course that didn’t matter much since the game was postponed after 11/ innings, but
2 Williams did provide an update on the injured:
Span suffered back spasms a few hours before Friday night’s game. Williams said the Nationals are looking at how he deals with the time between batting practice and the game.
“That cooling-down period in between can be an issue at times,” Williams said. “We’re looking at that. Denard’s conscious of that. We’re trying to modify his program in that he doesn’t sit for so long once he’s hot.”
Williams said Span’s two core surgeries this offseason “changes things” and that Span will continue to work on his core flexibility.
Rendon, who was placed on the disabled list Friday with a strained left quad, is traveling with the team to Philadelphia this weekend and then to Atlanta. He rode the bike Friday, and Williams said he will begin hitting Monday.
There were no updates on Werth, other than he is back in D.C.. He was able to wear a glove last week without a splint on his left wrist, which he fractured earlier this month.
Harper, who came up limping and grabbing the back of his leg after doubling Wednesday night, underwent an MRI exam on his right hamstring. Williams said Friday that the MRI looked “pretty good” and Harper is progressing.
Zimmerman has been on the disabled list since June 11, taking time off to alleviate the pain caused by plantar fasciitis. The first baseman is back in D.C., and Williams said he has gotten on a treadmill and started hitting. He expects him to “ramp up” his activity level soon.
Escobar left Friday night’s game after being hit in the left hand by a pitch. Williams said the hand is “swollen” but reiterated that X-rays were negative.
“It’s exciting,” Taylor said. “He crushed that ball. I was very happy for him.”