ATLANTA — Veteran outfielder Reed Johnson is likely to miss significant time after pulling a muscle in his foot late during the Nationals’ dramatic, 13-12 victory over the Braves on Tuesday night.
Johnson hurt himself while legging out a key RBI double in the top of the seventh, pulling up lame as he reached second base. Manager Matt Williams and a Nationals trainer came out to examine him, and though Johnson initially remained in the game, he realized he couldn’t stay in after having to dive back to the bag on a subsequent pickoff attempt.
“He felt it when he came out of the box,” Williams said. “He heard a big pop. And when he got out to second, it was starting to subside and then he had to dive back into second base again and he couldn’t go any farther.”
Williams described the injury as a pulled muscle in Johnson’s foot and lower leg.
“It acts like plantar fascia, but it’s actually a muscle that kind of goes underneath your foot and up the side of your leg,” the manager said.
Asked if this would likely be a long-term injury, Williams replied: “It may be. It’s not like it’s a little strain. He was really having trouble moving. So we’ll have to see how it is tomorrow and we’ll make a decision on it.”
Assuming Johnson is placed on the disabled list, the Nationals will need to summon another outfielder to take his roster spot. Matt den Dekker would be the most likely choice, but the club would be allowed to recall Michael Taylor even though the top-rated prospect was optioned fewer than 10 days ago. MLB rules allow a recently demoted player to be recalled if he replaces an injured teammate.
Signed to a minor-league contract after he was released by the Marlins during the final week of spring training, Johnson made the Nationals’ Opening Day roster. The 38-year-old was 4-for-18 with Tuesday night’s double and two RBI.