SATURDAY 9:13am: The Nationals have announced that they’ve placed Eaton on the DL and promoted Bautista, as anticipated. Eaton’s injury has officially been listed as a left knee strain.
8:21am: The Nats will promote outfielder Rafael Bautista to the big leagues, MASN’s Byron Kerr writes. That news would seem to indicate Eaton is headed to the DL. The 24-year-old Bautista is batting a modest .291/.325/.354 in 83 plate appearances with Triple-A Syracuse, a line roughly in keeping with the offensive skill set he’s demonstrated throughout his minor-league career — he hits well for contact and posts reasonable on-base percentages but lacks power. Bautista swiped 56 bases for Double-A Harrisburg in 2016 while only being caught ten times, indicating outstanding speed, and Kerr notes that his range is very good. MLB.com ranks Bautista 13th among Nationals prospects.
FRIDAY 9:47pm: Skipper Dusty Baker was only able to say that the club will know more after Eaton undergoes an MRI tomorrow, as Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com tweets.
9:38pm: Nationals center fielder Adam Eaton was removed from tonight’s game after suffering an apparent lower-leg injury suffered while crossing first base. There are no details yet from the club, of course, but Eaton had to be helped off without placing any weight on his left leg.
The image of Eaton grimacing in pain while being removed from the field is just about the last thing the Nationals hoped to see this evening. The 28-year-old has functioned as a key cog in a productive Nats lineup since coming over in a somewhat controversial winter trade.
Over his 102 trips to plate entering tonight’s action, Eaton carried a .291/.392/.465 batting line with a pair of long balls and three stolen bases. Though defensive metrics haven’t loved his work in center field, the jury is still out given the meager sample to date.
We’ll need to wait for further word, clearly, before leaping to any conclusions. But given the degree of pain clearly being experienced by the gritty Eaton, and the fact he wasn’t able to bear any weight on his leg, it seems at a minimum that the organization will need to expect some kind of DL placement. For the time being, the club could utilize Michael Taylor in center while also playing Bryce Harper there at times, though obviously that’s not the optimal alignment.