Denard Span is only a week into his first season with the Nationals, but he’s already figured out a way to beat the traffic in Washington, D.C.: Tweeting as I’m in traffic hoping to get pulled over so that I can get to the field quicker #omg — Denard Span (@thisisdspan) April 9, 2013 It…
BALTIMORE — Zach Britton made his way into the Orioles clubhouse on crutches, and wearing a soft boot. He sprained his left ankle in the ninth inning of Saturday’s game.
Britton fielded Adam Eaton’s bunt and threw to first baseman Chris Davis.
“After I flipped the ball to Chris, I just kind of felt something,” Britton said. “I didn’t know if I stepped wrong. I didn’t know if I stepped wrong. It didn’t feel like I rolled it or anything, my ankle, but just didn’t feel very good and [trainer Richie Bancells] didn’t think there was any reason to push it last night. Especially with the way the weather was, the field conditions, everything. It was just best to shut it down right there.”
Eaton scored what turned out to the winning run.
Britton is hoping he can avoid a visit to the disabled list.
“I think I’d be surprised if I had to go on the DL, but we’ll see how it feels. It feels pretty good compared to yesterday, but still some tenderness in there and obviously I’m not walking great, so I think you’ve got to walk fine before I can even start pitching again,” Britton said.
“Hopefully, it’s just a few days and maybe I can throw a bullpen or at least run on it.”
Britton had an X-Ray, and there are no plans for an MRI. He admitted to sleeping poorly, but that was because of anxiousness, not pain.
“I’ve never done anything to my ankles, so I didn’t really know what I was feeling. Didn’t feel very good. Just kind of felt like I had jammed it, I guess. The best way to describe it. But Richie kind of took charge and said, ‘That’s it,’” Britton said.
As a left-hander, the ankle he injured is the one he pushes off.
“It’s going to be a big test, a huge test. I think it would be worse if it was actually my land leg. Yeah, it’s going to a nice test in a few days if I can push off. Once I can do that, I think I’ll be fine. It’s just a matter of, if I’ve got to tape it, wear a brace or something to help me through it. Just kind of nip it in the bud right now. We have the off day tomorrow, which I guess is good timing. You never want to say good timing on an injury, but I guess having the off day would be nice. Hopefully, I can get back in the next few days.”
It was the second time in as many nights that Britton could have injured himself. He dove to try and tag Chicago’s Avisail Garcia in Friday night’s game.
“I was telling Buck [Showalter] I was trying to win the Gold Glove. I think I’m going to shut that down for now on,” Britton said.
The Orioles lost a bizarre game when the normally reliable bullpen allowed five runs.
“It was a tough night, I think. Us down there in the bullpen, especially. We pride ourselves doing a good job after the starter, give him those wins, especially those games that we should win. We didn’t do a very good job last night, but we’ll bounce back, and the guys will do a good job today if they get into the game,” Britton said.
The only difference between the Houston Rockets and Wizards is that they were in different conferences. Both were 41-41, except the West was weaker top to bottom so Houston had the No. 8 and final seed while Washington finished 10th.
The Wizards' goals are to get younger, more explosive and identify a few two-way players in the process to improve their 21st scoring defense. Adding players indiscriminately isn't an option because of the salary cap. The big fish (meaning, big-name free agents) will get signed first. Assuming the Wizards land one, even if it's not named Kevin Durant, they'll construct the roster with the remaining money with as many as eight other spots open. More than likely they'll retain 2-4 of their own free agents which will cut that number of open slots from 5-7.
They'll need a solid backup for Marcin Gortat at center, a true scorer behind Bradley Beal and a backup point guard for John Wall.
These are Houston’s free agents, in order of best fit (and realistically in the Wizards' wheelhouse cap-wise):
Donatas Motiejunas: He’s got the size at 7-foot tall and plays facing the basket. Injuries slowed him as he played in just 37 games for 6.2 points, after averaging 12 a year ago when he started 62 times, but Motiejunas can be a complementary player off the bench or a spot starter with three-point range. He’s also 25 and made just $1.6 million. Coming off a sub-par season with a dysfunctional roster, he can get a raise but still be very affordable.
Terrence Jones: Before the Wizards acquired Markieff Morris at the trade deadline, Jones was in the conversation but giving up a first-round pick for an unrestricted free agent this summer with no commitment long-term would’ve been silly. Plus, Jones is not better than Morris. Jones averaged 8.7 points and 4.2 rebounds in just 50 appearances. The 6-9 forward unrestricted and made $1.8 million this season. A good backup with stretch potential at 31.6% from three, he can be an fill-in starter and probably acquired for a moderate raise.
Jason Terry: The Jet, an unrestricted free agent shooting guard, will be 39 soon coming off averaging 5.9 points in 72 games. He still shot a respectable 35.6% from three-point range but Terry is a few years past his best. A player of his caliber is an ideal sixth man and he was a key reason the Mavs upset the Heat for the NBA title. But that was five years ago. If he continues to play, he’s a late rotation, end-of-the-bench guy for the veteran minimum who plays in a pinch. He played for the $1.5 million minimum.
Josh Smith: The unrestricted free agent ($1.5 million) has gone from being a double-digit scoring average from 10 seasons in a row to a bench player who has fallen out of favor because of his low-efficiency scoring. Smith is 6-10 and can be a good defender. He's also just 30, roughly the same percentage he shoots from three-point range which he does too liberally for a player with his accuracy. Smith isn't in demand. He'll be a cheap pickup. If he plays to his strengths, and Doc Rivers couldn't make him work with the L.A. Clippers, what are the chances that Wizards coach Scott Brooks would succeed?
Brooks Orpik is known as a physical player, but he may have gotten a bit too physical in Game 2 on Saturday with his hit to Penguins’ defenseman Olli Maatta.
The NHL Department of Player Safety announced Sunday via Twitter that Orpik will have a hearing later in the day for the hit.
Orpik was assessed a two-minute minor for the hit. Maatta did not return to the game.
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan was steamed afterward saying, “I thought it was a late hit. I thought it was a target to his head. I think it's the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game."
Orpik was not made available for comment after the game, but he did explain the hit to Barry Trotz who told the media the veteran defenseman thought the rebound from Maatta’s shot was going back to Maatta which is why he followed up with the hit.
"We'll let the league handle it," Trotz said after the game. "If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He's not a dirty player."