Washington Nationals’ right fielder Adam Eaton tweaked his hamstring running to first base in a March 3rd game, and the veteran hadn’t played in a Grapefruit League matchup before returning to the lineup as the designated hitter on Wednesday afternoon.
Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez said the level of concern was low when he spoke with reporters on Tuesday, but he did acknowledge that if the 31-year-old didn’t get back in a game sooner than later it might start to concern him.
“I’ll start getting concerned if he’s not playing within the next five or six days,” Martinez said, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jessica Camerato.
“We could ramp him up here fairly quickly. For me, I told him — just like these other guys — ‘Until you show me you can do everything, you’re going to just stay back there.’”
Having arrived in Florida early, early this winter, as in early in January, Eaton got plenty of work in before his teammates even arrived, so he said before Wednesday’s game that did help somewhat in terms of lessening the effects of the times he’s missed while recovering from the hamstring issue.
“I think it helps and hurts,” Eaton said of his early arrival in West Palm Beach. “I think with having no time off in the Fall, the body is a little fatigued and it’s kind of taken its toll, you play an extra month longer and then get 10 days off, 14 days off in the offseason and then coming back here.
“I really didn’t get any time off, but I’m taking it now, so got a little bit of a blow, and I feel like everyone kind of gets their bumps and bruises, just happens to not be in a game, usually it’s on a back field, you need a couple and no one knows, but it’s all kind of part of the process.”
Eaton had hit some, and was running at 75-80% according to his manager’s estimation, but he hadn’t been penciled into the lineup until yesterday.
Before the game, the outfielder was asked what tests he needed to pass in order to feel like he’s fully-recovered from the hamstring issue.
“Just everything,” Eaton said.
“Being on your feet and running, hitting, a little bit of everything will be a test. Nothing crazy, just trying to ease back in there and get ready.”
Eaton struck out and popped in his first two trips to the plate in eight days, and a pop-out to second in his third at bat left him 0 for 3 in his return to the lineup.