Nationals right-hander Jeremy Hellickson made it through just four pitches during Sunday’s start against the Braves. He induced a groundout from Ender Inciarte for the first out of the inning, then saw Ozzie Albies reach safely after Mark Reynolds misplayed a throw to first. Hellickson scrambled to make the catch, but was soon seen grabbing at his hamstring and was checked by an athletic trainer and club manager Dave Martinez. He made a hasty exit from the field and appears to be down for the count with a hamstring injury, though the Nationals have yet to comment on the severity of the issue or announce a projected return date for their starter.
Hellickson, 31, has looked sharp so far this season with a 2.30 ERA, 1.3 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 across 43 innings. Assuming his injury is severe enough to warrant a trip to the disabled list, it’ll be his first time doing so since 2015, when he missed a little over three weeks with a left hamstring strain.
The righty’s abrupt departure created an unexpected opportunity for rookie starter (and no. 16 prospect) Jefry Rodriguez, who made his major league debut with two outs remaining in the first inning. Per Mark Zuckerman of MASN Sports, the 24-year-old represents the 42nd player to appear for the club this season. Rodriguez induced a pop-up with his very first pitch, then watched Nick Markakis rope an RBI single into right field to put the Braves on the board. The Nats were quick to follow suit; by the third, they had regained the lead with a two-run shot from Trea Turner, his seventh blast of the year. They currently lead the Braves 2-1 in the fifth.
Another fan was struck by a line drive foul ball during Sunday’s game between the Rockies and Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, Mike DiGiovanna and Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times report. The ball was hit by Cody Bellinger in the first inning, going just beyond where the protective netting ends at the first-base dugout, striking a young woman in the head. Play was delayed for two minutes while the woman received medical attention. She initially stayed in her seat holding an ice pack to her head but was taken to a hospital for evaluation. According to someone in the Dodger Stadium first-aid office, the girl was alert and responding.
After the game, Bellinger said, “It was weird. It’s the first time I think I’ve hit a fan. I saw it literally hit her face. That was tough. I just tried to regroup. I’m sure it was tough for everyone.” He added, “I went over the next half-inning just to make sure she was all right. She said she was all right. She gave me a thumbs up. Obviously, it’s a scary situation.”
Both Bellinger and manager Dave Roberts expressed support for extending the protective netting at Dodger Stadium. [Update: Netting will be extended, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports.]
Bellinger was involved in yet another incident involving a fan later in the game. According to Michael Duarte of NBC Los Angeles, a 14-year-old girl ran on the field in the ninth inning. Bellinger said the girl came up to him and said, “I want a hug.” As she hugged Bellinger, a security guard tackled her. Bellinger said to her, “You know you’re going to jail?” She replied, “Yeah, I know. It was worth it.”