Ea­ton mak­ing progress in re­hab

In­jury left lineup’s No. 2 spot in flux

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY TODD DYBAS

Adam Ea­ton sat in the du­gout Sun­day with cross-shaped marks on his knees still vis­i­ble from surgery. They told his cur­rent state. Af­ter tear­ing his left ACL, he is out for the sea­son, locked into a long re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion process and try­ing to en­joy the in­cre­men­tal progress that comes with it.

His in­jury has had a rip­ple ef­fect. First, it pulled apart the top of the Na­tion­als’ lineup. Trea Turner and Ea­ton were be­gin­ning to roll to­gether at the start of the lineup when Ea­ton was hurt run­ning to first base April 29. Na­tion­als man­ager Dusty Baker tin­kered dur­ing spring train­ing, putting Turner in lead­off and Ea­ton sec­ond or more to­ward the bot­tom of the or­der, and re­vers­ing their spots. Turner’s early sea­son ham­string strain put him on the dis­abled and Ea­ton first in the or­der. Af­ter Turner re­turned, they played to­gether for eight days be­fore Ea­ton was hurt.

The in­jury flipped Turner back into the lead­off spot. It put Jayson Werth sec­ond. Wash­ing­ton’s of­fense was on its way to scor­ing the most runs in the Na­tional League even with­out Ea­ton. Though Ea­ton was hurt, Baker still had vet­eran sta­bil­ity at the top, keep­ing his 3-4-5 of the or­der in­tact with Bryce Harper, Ryan Zim­mer­man and Daniel Mur­phy pro­vid­ing three spots of con­sec­u­tive dan­ger. Then, Werth hurt his toe. Since, the No. 2 spot in the or­der has been in flux. Brian Good­win, Wilmer Difo, Ryan Raburn and Harper have made ap­pear­ances. Once the first three did not de­liver in the spot, Baker be­grudg­ingly moved Harper up.

“Nothin’,” Baker said of what he liked about Harper hit­ting sec­ond. “It’s the best I can come up with the lineup I had at hand. I’d rather have Jayson Werth

-- it kind of proves how much we miss Werth in the mean­time. I’d rather have Bryce three, Mur­phy four (with­out Ryan Zim­mer­man). I didn’t have Werth. Some­times, it’s the best you can come up with.”

Zim­mer­man also hurt his back, which caused him to miss four of the last five games. Fur­ther com­pli­cat­ing Baker’s choices is an in­jury to Chris Heisey, who could play left field in Werth’s place.

When he was in­jured, the team an­nounced Ea­ton’s re­cov­ery time­line to be 6-9 months. He is mov­ing around bet­ter and can place some weight on his left leg. Most of the time he is still us­ing crutches to help carry the bur­den dur­ing his re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion from ACL re­con­struc­tion surgery.

Among the early steps in the re­cov­ery process are re­ac­ti­vat­ing the quadri­ceps mus­cle, re-es­tab­lish­ing full ex­ten­sion of the leg — or hy­per­ex­ten­sion, if it was in place prior to the in­jury — then build­ing quad strength and har­mony for the mus­cle to fire when asked. Af­ter that, it’s a strength­en­ing pro­gres­sion that al­lows the leg to carry more weight, move faster and, usu­ally in what has be­come a com­mon­place surgery, re­turn to its nor­mal state.

Ea­ton said he is ahead of sched­ule to some de­gree. He al­ready has full ex­ten­sion and has found it odd that he had to re­train his quad to do what was al­ways a nor­mal func­tion be­cause of mus­cle mem­ory.

“I’ve never had an ex­pe­ri­ence where I’ve told my leg to lift and it doesn’t lift,” Ea­ton said Sun­day. “It’s re­ally a sur­real feel­ing. I have to tell my quad to con­tract to hold me knee in place. It’s def­i­nitely a grind.”

Asked if there was dam­age to the knee be­yond the ACL tear, Ea­ton be­came ir­ri­tated with the ques­tion and de­clined to com­ment. Na­tion­als gen­eral man­ager Mike Rizzo had said pre­vi­ously that sur­geons re­paired other lig­a­ment dam­age and the menis­cus in ad­di­tion to the ACL.

Ea­ton chose to do his re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion work around the team. He said he watches a lot of base­ball — he doesn’t have much of a choice, at this point — and hopes his pres­ence around the team can be ben­e­fi­cial.

“Just in the sense that I’m ded­i­cated to them, just as they’ve been ded­i­cated to me,” Ea­ton said.

When the team goes on the road, Ea­ton con­tin­ues his re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion work. He said phys­i­cal ther­apy and oc­cu­pa­tional ther­apy com­bine to take about 3-4 hours per day, six day per week.

“I think I do a very good job of fo­cus­ing ev­ery sin­gle day,” Ea­ton said. “But, at times my mind wan­ders about big pic­ture. Not even just this year. Not even just next year. But, the longevity of my ca­reer and how it may be shaped with my in­jury.”

Sit­ting around has been a new ex­pe­ri­ence for Ea­ton af­ter be­ing a fleet ath­lete through­out his life.

“It’s been the ex­pe­ri­ence of a life­time, hope­fully I don’t have to go through it again,” Ea­ton said.

Baker can say the same.


Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als out­fielder Adam Ea­ton said he is ahead of sched­ule in his re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion from his torn left ACL.

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