MIAMI -- They've already lost, at various points this season, their starting catcher, first baseman, third baseman, left fielder, right fielder, fifth starter, closer, backup closer, backup catcher, third-string catcher and utilityman. Now the Nationals can add their top pinch-hitter to their never-ending list of injured players.
Chad Tracy will have surgery Thursday to repair a torn groin muscle, the club announced this evening, the latest crushing blow to a Nationals team that somehow remains in first place despite the injuries.
"I've never seen anything like it," manager Davey Johnson said. "It's kind of weird. But that's a tribute to the makeup of this ballclub and this organization. There's a lot of capable guys that we're going give an opportunity, and the're going to run with it."
Tracy will miss at least six-to-eight weeks, perhaps more, while recovering from surgery to repair a tear in the same area he was operated on in November for a double sports hernia.
With nine RBI in only 18 pinch-hit at-bats this season, Tracy has nearly equaled the Nationals' entire output from last season (14 RBI in 204 pinch-hit at-bats).
For now, Johnson plans to use the likes of Corey Brown and Roger Bernadina in Tracy's role, with veteran Mark DeRosa also close to rejoining the club after missing the last month with an oblique strain.
The Nationals could seek to acquire another seasoned hitter, though they understand the difficulty in pulling off that kind of move.
"Let me tell you, everybody is looking for a Chad Tracy," Johnson said. "We're no different. ... Nobody's letting somebody like that go, unless they're making 10 million and they're out of options. That makes it harder."