Recently-added Washington Nationals’ left-hander Roenis Elías made his debut with his new team last night, after he was acquired from the Seattle Mariners at the Trade Deadline this week, recording two outs on seven pitches once he took over for Joe Ross in Friday’s series opener with the Arizona Diamondbacks in Chase Field.
With left-hander Jake Lamb due up first for the D-backs’ in the bottom of the seventh inning, Elías’s new skipper, Davey Martinez, sent the southpaw (who had only six plate appearances between Boston and Seattle as an American Leaguer exclusively over the first six seasons in the majors before the trade), out to hit for himself in the top of the seventh inning.
Elías put together a solid, six-pitch at bat, swinging and missing at a 1-1 pitch, fouling off a 1-2 offering, and grounding out to second base on a 2-2 sinker, but in the exactly-what-they-didn’t-want outcome, he pulled up before reaching first base on the grounder, holding the back of his right leg with what looked like a hamstring issue, though according to reliever, he might have avoided a devastating injury for both himself and the Nationals.
One of the Nats new relievers got to bat. This is unreal pic.twitter.com/dLwwEUl0Lt— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) August 3, 2019
“I felt a small pull in the back. I can’t tell you if it was the hamstring or a cramp,” Elías said, via interpreter Octavio Martinez as quoted by Washington Post writer Jesse Doughterty.
“I just felt it and immediately decided to shut it down. That’s why they told me they’ll look at it tomorrow more in depth. I can’t give you any details as to what it is.”
Problem is, Elías was told not to swing. Before he went up to the plate, Martinez tried to tell the reliever that he shouldn’t even offer at any pitches.
“He was told not to swing, about as many times as I could tell him, in Spanish and English,” Martinez explained, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman after the game.
“But he’s competitive, you know? He said sorry to me. But I told him: ‘It’s part of the game. You’ll be fine, so don’t worry about. But next time, you listen. Just listen. You’re not here to hit, you’re here to pitch.’”
Elías said he wasn’t too concerned about the injury.
“I’m not that worried about it,” Elías said, again, as quoted on MASN.
“I feel pretty good. I can walk around. It doesn’t seem like it hinders me too much to walk around. We don’t know yet the extent of the injury, but I’m positive it’s not anything serious. And a few days out, I might be ready to go.”
With Elías out after the scare, the Nats’ skipper turned to Hunter Strickland in the seventh, and watched one of the other three relievers the Nationals added toss a 10-pitch, eight-strike, 1-2-3 frame, striking out two batters to preserve what was a 2-0 lead at that point.
After what ended up a 3-0 win, Martinez said it was nice to have some new options in the bullpen.
“It’s nice to have those guys that have actually pitched in the back of the bullpen, close games, so we can do different things.”
He might have one less option tonight, but the Nationals have to hope that the injury to Elías wasn’t as serious as it looked like it might be at first.