WASHINGTON -- Howie Kendrick had a smile on his face, even though he stood with the aid of crutches and a walking boot on his right foot. The news of his season-ending injury came suddenly on Saturday. During the eighth inning of a 4-1 loss to the Dodgers in Game 1 of a doubleheader, Kendrick planted his foot awkwardly chasing a ball hit to the warning track.
Although he did not realize it at the time, he ruptured his Achilles tendon on that play, and will require surgery this week. Kendrick tried to take another step in the outfield before he realized he could not and fell to the ground, needing to be carted off the field.
"When it happened, I didn't really understand what was happening," Kendrick said. "Why I couldn't move my foot at the time, but then once I found out it was like 'Oh, crap.'"
The Nationals placed Kendrick on the disabled list in between games of the doubleheader, calling up right-hander Jefry Rodriguez in his place for Saturday's nightcap. However, they are short on outfielders and a source told MLB.com they will promote Juan Soto -- their No. 2 prospect and the 15th overall prospect in MLB as rated by MLB Pipeline -- on Sunday to replace Kendrick in the outfield. The club has not confirmed the potential move.
But the loss of Kendrick leaves Washington without perhaps its most consistent hitter this season.
Initially signed to serve as a valuable hitter off the bench, Kendrick, 34, was thrust into an everyday role thanks to a number of injuries on the Nationals' roster. And he has thrived with daily playing time, batting .303 in 40 games while playing a combination of second base and left field for the Nats.
"It's a huge loss," Bryce Harper said. "He's one of the best teammates I've ever played with, such a great guy in the clubhouse, great guy on the field. Shows up every single day, same guy, same mentality."
"It's awful to witness," right-hander Tanner Roark said. "It sucks all around. The year he's been having and the kind of guy he is, wants to win and wants to be out there all the time. To see him go down like that is awful. It sucks."
The Nationals already are without four of their everyday players in Daniel Murphy, Adam Eaton, Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Wieters, so Kendrick had been filling a valuable role for them.
While Wilmer Difo can fill in at second base, they are especially shallow on outfield depth. Eaton is recovering from ankle surgery, Brian Goodwin just started hitting again after a wrist injury, top prospect Victor Robles sustained an elbow injury in April and the team just announced Rafael Bautista will undergo season-ending knee surgery on Wednesday.
That makes Kendrick's injury that much bigger of a loss for the Nats.
"Yeah, but I still get to be here to hang out with the guys," Kendrick said. "At least I can express some energy that way. I always try to look at everything on the bright side. I'm always positive and even though this sucks, I got to find something to do. There's no point in being mopey about it. It won't heal as fast. The happier I am, the faster I'll heal."