Daniel Murphy shut down with left buttocks strain

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According to a report from Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com, the Nationals’ Daniel Murphy has been shut down by the team through the weekend series against the Pirates. An MRI revealed a “left buttocks strain” for the infielder, who injured his leg last weekend while sliding into second base on a double.

Several days of rest hasn’t done wonders for Murphy’s leg, and now that he has a clear diagnosis, it gives the team some options going forward. One of those options is keeping Murphy available as a pinch-hitter, since the strain is supposed to primarily affect his ability to run the bases. The 31-year-old took two at-bats off the bench this week, going 0-for-2, though Zuckerman reported that the Nationals had a pinch-runner standing by in the event that he made contact.

With the Cardinals’ loss this afternoon, the Nationals are penciled into a wild card tie-breaker, but could clinch the NL East lead should they beat the Pirates in tonight’s game, provided that the Phillies also beat the Mets. In either event, they’ll be lucky to keep their best hitter around, even in a limited capacity.