Nationals' SS Ian Desmond on HBP on thumb: "It doesn't feel good, but it's not broken."

Patrick McDermott

Washington Nationals' shortstop Ian Desmond left last night's game after he was hit on the thumb by a pitch in the eighth inning, but both he and Nats' skipper Matt Williams assured reporters that X-rays were negative and nothing was broken.

So who plays short if Ian Desmond is ever hurt? Danny Espinosa is the first option, and surely he's up to the task defensively. Anyone who's ever seen him in action or watched him work out in the infield before a game has seen what kind of an arm the 27-year-old who was drafted as a shortstop has, but his offensive issues would be even more of a concern if he was pressed into an everyday role at short right now.

Zach Walters?

"X-rays are negative. A little sore. Initially when you get hit like that it's difficult to grab the ball." -Matt Williams on Ian Desmond HBP on thumb

With all the chatter this week about the Nationals looking for Desmond's eventual replacement in a trade, if it's to be believed, you have to wonder what that says about the Nationals' opinion of Walters...

The Nationals seemed hopeful late Thursday night, however, that they won't have to think too much about getting by without Desmond in spite of a HBP scare late in the series finale with the Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yards.

O's skipper Buck Showalter walked Bryce Harper in front of Ian Desmond for the second time this week, with two outs and a runner on in each instance, but whereas Orioles' reliever Darren O'Day struck Desmond out in the ninth on Monday night in the nation's capital, the right-hander hit Desmond in the eighth on Thursday night in Oriole Park, coming inside with an 88 mph 2-2 heater and catching the Nats' shortstop flush on the inside, or what Nats' skipper Matt Williams referred to as the "meat part" of the right thumb.


Desmond took his base and stayed in the game as the inning ended with two runners stranded, but when he tried the throw the ball between innings it quickly became clear that he could not finish the second game of two in the Orioles' home.

Danny Espinosa took over at short and finished out the game.

After the Nationals' 4-3 loss, Williams talked to reporters about the decision to pull Desmond off the field.

"He's fine," the first-year manager assured reporters. "X-rays are negative. A little sore. Initially when you get hit like that it's difficult to grab the ball. He was trying to throw it across the infield, didn't have a good feel for it, so we got him in here, got a picture, he's fine."

"It doesn't feel good," Desmond said, "but it's not broken."

Asked if he thought it was bad enough that he would miss any time, Desmond, who has played in all but two of the Nationals 90 games this season, said, "I don't think so."

Desmond said his attempts at throwing after the HBP didn't go well, describing the feeling as, "... kind of like you got hit in the funny bone where it's not really that funny. That's kind of what it felt like."

"It's the meat part of the thumb," Williams explained. "It's the biggest part of the hand, so it's probably a good thing. The good news is there's no fracture. He'll be sore for a couple of days, I'm sure."

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