WASHINGTON (AP) Adam Eaton’s first season as the Washington Nationals center fielder is over already.
A person familiar with the situation said Saturday night that Eaton is done for the rest of the year after tearing a ligament in his left knee. The person confirmed Eaton’s status to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, because the Nationals had not made public the severity of the injury.
Eaton went on the 10-day disabled list Saturday, one day after hurting his knee during a game.
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He was Washington’s biggest offseason acquisition, arriving from the Chicago White Sox in a trade that included the Nationals’ top two pitching prospects plus a 2016 first-round draft choice. Eaton was hitting .297 with two homers and 13 RBIs, reaching base safely in 20 of 23 games for the NL East leaders and forming an effective 1-2 punch at the top of Washington’s batting order with shortstop Trea Turner.
But in Friday’s 7-5 loss to the visiting New York Mets, the 28-year-old Eaton stepped awkwardly on the bag when he beat out a throw to first in the ninth inning. Eaton fell down, then needed assistance leaving the field, keeping weight off his left leg.
”When you see the replay, he comes up short of the bag,” Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer said Friday, ”and (you) just watch his ankle roll over and his whole leg kind of falls apart.”
Turner, last year’s runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year, will return to the leadoff spot in place of Eaton. It’s a spot Turner knows well.
Michael A. Taylor will get the first shot at replacing Eaton in center field, although Nationals manager Dusty Baker made it sound as if Taylor will need to start hitting better in order to keep that job. Taylor entered Saturday batting only .095 (2 for 21), but he raised that to .195 by going 3 for 5, hitting second behind Turner.
To take Eaton’s spot on the roster, Washington recalled outfielder Rafael Bautista from Triple-A Syracuse before Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the Mets.
Fox Sports first reported that Eaton’s season is over.
AP freelance writer Bobby Bancroft contributed to this report.
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