There’s a different between being injured and being hurt. For Dany Espinosa, not finding that fine line has likely cost the Nationals a number ball games this year.
Reports have surfaced this afternoon that Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa has been playing with a bone chip in his wrist and an injured rotator cuff…since April. Espinosa is just now receiving time off to recover from the injuries after trying to play through the pain.
While Espinosa trying to play through the pain was brave and courageous, his courage has likely cost the Washington Nationals a number baseball games this season. Espinosa has yet to bat over .200 at the plate this season and his defense has been less than stellar.
It’s the age old debate in sports: to play or not to play when you’re banged up. There are certainly instances where you may be sore, but when you’re injured, you’re injured and you need to swallow your pride and take a break.
Had Espinosa been hitting well and helping the team win ball games, this blog post would be totally different and I would be praising him for his bravery in taking the field day in and day out with those injuries. However, Espinosa has done nothing but hurt the team while trying to play through the hurt he was feeling.
The Nationals as an organization should have stepped in and made Espinosa rest. Steve Lombardozzi, Espinosa’s likely replacement at second base, is more than capable of helping the club win both at the plate and in the field. Lombardozzi played a number of games at second base last season and, in my opinion, is the most underrated player on the Nationals roster.
The Nationals training staff should have been more proactive in taking care of Espinosa’s injuries. Them letting him “suck it up” has only helped the other teams win games. The trainers need to see that a player isn’t being productive for his team and let the manager know so they can act accordingly. It’s also their job to protect the player from further harm and make sure that they can heal properly and fully.
For athletes, the key to deciding on whether or not you should play through the pain depends on how you affect the team when you play. If you’re hurting the team, committing errors on defense, not productive at the plate, and just plain aiding the other team in victory, it may be time to take a seat and heal up. You certainly don’t want those injuries to get worse and become career ending.
Hopefully the Nationals will give Espinosa more than “a couple of days” of rest like some reports are hinting at them doing. Espinosa should be given ample time to heal so he can play up to the potential that he showed last season when, at times, he was one of the more dominant hitters in the Nationals lineup.