Adam Eaton is on DL, so Goodwin gets his shot in left field
It is April and Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton is once again on the disabled list.
This spring that means an opportunity for Brian Goodwin, who got the start in left field in place of Eaton on Wednesday afternoon against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park.
Goodwin led off and was hitless in two at-bats with a walk while the Nationals tied the game in the last of the ninth and 11th innings, only to lose 5-3 when reliever and losing pitcher Ryan Madson gave up two runs in the top of the 12th inning as the Braves prevented a three-game sweep.
“It kind of got away from me,” Madson said. “It is unfortunate. We battled back so many times that game.”
The game-winning hit with the bases loaded was by Atlanta’s Peter Bourjos, who entered the game in the last of the seventh for defense and like Goodwin knows what it is like to be a role player.
The Nationals are 6-6 overall and have lost four of six games at home this season. And while it is very early in the season Washington fell four games back of the red-hot Mets, who were 9-1 before their game later Wednesday.
Former Washington catcher Kurt Suzuki had three hits for Atlanta, including a solo homer off Shawn Kelley in the 11th to make it 3-2. It was the second homer of the game for Suzuki, who went deep against Washington starter A.J. Cole in the fourth.
“I would like to have that one back,” said Kelley, who had retired the first nine batters he faced this season. “I missed with that one.”
Howie Kendrick of the Nationals tied the game at 3-3 with a double in the last of the 11th, after first baseman Matt Adams of the Nationals knotted the score at 2-2 with a homer in the last of the ninth.
Adams, the slow first baseman, was thrown out by a mile while trying to score from second on a single to left by Wilmer Difo in the seventh that would have tied the game.
“I trust Bobby over at third base. I really do,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of third-base coach Bobby Henley. “We played well. We just fell a little short.”
Suddenly another concern is left field, as Eaton went on the 10-day disabled list earlier Wednesday with a bone bruise in his left ankle.
It was April 28, 2017, that Eaton tore his ACL while running out a grounder at Nationals Park. He missed the rest of the season and Michael A. Taylor took over as the regular center fielder the rest of the season.
This year Eaton began the season as the left fielder but he injured his ankle on a slide into home while scoring from first on a double on Saturday against the New York Mets.
Goodwin is hitting .261 this season after batting .251 with 13 homers in just 74 games for the Nationals last season.
Martinez said after the loss he could use Goodwin or speedy shortstop Trea Turner in the top of the lineup in the absence of Eaton.
“He is working walks. But I like him there; I really do,” Martinez said of Goodwin. “We will play around with it. I like them both up there.”
Turner had two hits Wednesday and is hitting .217. Kendrick also had two hits and lifted his average to .350, but the Nationals left seven runners on base.
Taylor, the starting center fielder, said he has spoken to Goodwin about what it is like to come off the bench as a fourth outfielder. Goodwin was replaced late in the game Wednesday by Moises Sierra, who was called up from Triple-A Syracuse when Eaton went on the DL.
“He has been doing great,” Taylor said of Goodwin. “You have to have a routine; your routine gets you through and (you) try to get better every day. He has been around awhile and has a strong routine and knows what he is doing out there.”
He will have to since Eaton could be out of action for a few weeks.
“I think for the most part we are going to be very, very cautious,” Martinez said of Eaton. “One is, it’s the ankle he hurt last year. Two, that we don’t want any setbacks on his knee. It’s a bone bruise, but it’s a bad bone bruise. It bothers him. We thought rather let him miss 10 days than it becomes three, four weeks. It’s going to be something that’s going to be monitored day-to-day and see where he’s at (and) when he’s ready.”