PHILADELPHIA — Ian Desmond was not in the Nationals’ lineup Friday night, but manager Matt Williams expects his shortstop to return Saturday after getting hit by a pitch at the base of his right thumb.
“He’s fine,” Williams said prior to Friday’s series opener against the Phillies. “He’s a little sore. He got in, did some early treatment today. He was able to throw the ball a little bit. I don’t expect it to be more than just today, but we’ll see how it goes. With a night game tonight and a night game tomorrow, I think he should be fine. It’s day-to-day.”
Desmond was struck by a fastball from Orioles right-hander Darren O’Day in the top of the eighth inning Thursday in Baltimore. He remained in the game and initially took his position at shortstop for the bottom of the inning. But after his first warmup throw sailed into the first row of seats at Camden Yards, he took himself out of the game.
X-rays came back negative, and though Desmond’s palm is sore and swollen, the Nationals are confident no more tests are needed and he won’t need to miss significant time.
“You get hit by a baseball, it’s sore,” Williams said. “If it was an emergency, certainly October or that type of situation, he’d be OK. He would play. But we want to give him a day, let it calm down, make sure that he’s ready to go for the next two. I anticipate he’ll be OK.”
Desmond did not appear in the Nationals’ clubhouse Friday afternoon while reporters were in the room.
Jayson Werth, meanwhile, was back in the starting lineup after fouling a ball off his left foot in the final at-bat of Thursday’s loss. Though the veteran right fielder admitted his foot (which was still bandaged up Friday) remained “pretty sore,” he was confident he’d be able to play unless something didn’t go well during batting practice.
The Werth foul ball became more notable for the reactions it sparked than any actual physical damage it caused. Plate umpire C.B. Bucknor tried to tell Werth to step back up to the plate before he had enough time to recover, and Orioles manager Buck Showalter was caught on TV yelling at the opposing slugger to “get the [expletive] in the box!”
Asked on Friday what he thought of the way Bucknor and Showalter reacted to the incident, Werth replied: “I didn’t see it. I was too busy getting … well, never mind. I don’t have any real comment on the subject.”
Williams said he took no issue with an opposing manager yelling at his player, recognizing Showalter probably wanted to give closer Zach Britton a better opportunity to close out the win with one more pitch. Williams, on the other hand, wanted to give his guy more time to heal and collect his thoughts before stepping back in the box for a crucial at-bat.
“I don’t have any issue with it,” he said. “We decided to go out and give him even more time. Cause it hurts. It’s interesting. The catcher has all that gear on, and the balls come in there at 95 mph, and somebody fouls one off, off the shoulder. And the umpire gives him as much time as he needs. But the batter never gets as much time. And he’s got no gear.
“Jayson, he was trying to get his senses. It’s a pivotal part of the game. One swing of the bat, we could take the lead. All those things. Buck wants to get on with the game, because his pitcher’s hot and is throwing well. And he doesn’t want to get delayed. And we want to give a delay, because we want him to make sure he’s got everything in order before he takes his next swing. Nah, it’s part of the game.”