Updated at 12:30 a.m.
ATLANTA — Yunel Escobar is expected to miss a day or two after his left hand was cut in multiple places on a late, hard slide by Andrelton Simmons during Tuesday night’s game that left several Nationals teammates fuming over what they perceived as a dirty play by the Braves shortstop.
“That kid’s a good player,” Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond said of Simmons. “He plays with a lot of energy. But he’s got to be way smarter than that. That was ugly. It looked ugly. I’m sure when he goes back and looks at it, hopefully he learns from it.”
“Andrelton plays with a lot of energy and is a good player, but that’s a B.S. slide,” right fielder Bryce Harper added. “That’s something you don’t do. It’s just not smart. If he goes and looks back at it, he might see that it wasn’t a good idea.”
The play in question occurred during the bottom of the fifth inning of what wound up an 8-4 Braves victory at Turner Field. With Simmons on first base, Nationals starter Doug Fister uncorked a wayward pickoff attempt that rolled all the way to the tarp stationed along the right-field stands. Second baseman Danny Espinosa retrieved the ball and fired a one-hop throw to third, where Escobar was waiting and had Simmons out by two steps.
Simmons, though, came in hard and late, and his right foot slammed into Escobar’s glove, knocking it and the ball away and leaving his hand bloody. In obvious pain, Escobar was escorted off the field by assistant trainer Steve Gober, unable to finish the game.
“It just happens in the game sometimes,” Escobar said through interpreter Nilson Robledo, adding he expects to miss one or two days while his hand heals.
Escobar and Nationals manager Matt Williams wouldn’t directly give their opinion on Simmons’ slide, but several others in the clubhouse didn’t hesitate to criticize their opponent. And on the field, they appeared to try to exact some revenge when rookie reliever Rafael Martin’s first pitch in the bottom of the seventh got a piece of Simmons in the back before scooting to the backstop.
Atlanta outfielder Jonny Gomes, who came out of the dugout to argue, was ejected after the plunking. Martin and both dugouts were given warnings by plate umpire Bill Welke.
“I don’t even want to get into it,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told reporters after the game. “I thought Simmons, he just slid a little late into third base, that’s all. We all know and have seen him play, and sometimes he can slide a little crazy. There was nothing malicious about it. I’m surprised, really, with how they reacted. But maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.”
“I was just going hard and trying to go right for the bag,” Simmons told reporters. “It’s bad that somebody got hurt. Hopefully it’s not that bad, but I was just trying to play hard.”
This is the third injury Escobar has suffered since joining the Nationals over the winter. He strained an oblique muscle during spring training and missed three weeks. He also missed two games earlier this month with a mild groin strain.
The Nationals had no choice but to play Espinosa at third base and Dan Uggla at second base when Escobar was out with the groin injury, and they’ll likely need to do the same if he can’t play Tuesday or Wednesday, barring the promotion of another infielder from their farm system.