WASHINGTON -- The Nationals' clubhouse was especially somber after Friday night's 7-5 loss to the Mets, as the team considered the loss of center fielder Adam Eaton, who exited the game after crumpling to the ground past first base with an apparent left leg injury sustained while trying to beating out an infield single in the ninth.
Eaton was diagnosed with a left knee strain Saturday, and he was placed on the 10-day disabled list as the Nats called up outfielder Rafael Bautista from Triple-A Syracuse. Bautista is known for his speed, and the 24-year-old was batting .291 with a .325 on-base percentage in 19 games for Syracuse this season.
Eaton was the Nationals' prized acquisition during the offseason, acquired from the White Sox in exchange for three of the Nationals' top pitching prospects. And in his first 23 games in Washington, he was quickly becoming a fan favorite.
Eaton hit .297/.393/.462 and was one of the sparks, along with Trea Turner, at the top of the order for this top-ranked Nats' offense. Eaton has shown a splash of power with two home runs and some speed on the basepaths with three stolen bases. And he has endeared himself with his all-out play in center field, diving and smashing into walls, including earlier in the game Friday.
"When we traded those guys for him, everyone freaked out and said it was the worst trade of all time and this stuff," first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "But he came over here and did everything expected and more, which is hard to do when you get traded for guys like that and everyone puts a lot of pressure on you."
Michael Taylor is the only other true center fielder on the roster, and the Nationals might have to turn to him -- in addition to Bautista -- to fill in while Eaton is down. In limited action this season, Taylor is 2-for-21 with nine strikeouts and one walk.
"It's just awful," right-hander Max Scherzer said. "Especially when you see the replay, he comes up short of the bag and you see his ankle roll over, his whole leg kind of falls apart. Seeing him in the training room, it's an awful feeling.
"You hate seeing your teammates injured severely. And I think that's what happened."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.