ATLANTA -- Once Jeremy Hellickson realized he was having trouble gripping the bat, he turned from the batter's box and walked immediately toward the Nationals dugout. It was the fourth inning of Saturday's 7-1 victory against the Braves, when Hellickson reaggravated his sprained wrist during a bases-loaded at-bat against Julio Teheran.
Hellickson will receive an MRI when the team returns home this week, but with a little more than two weeks remaining, his season is almost certainly over. He had hoped to finish the season strong after spending the past month working his way back from the disabled list, only to have his return last just three innings.
"It's definitely really frustrating," Hellickson said after the game while wearing a brace around his right wrist. "All three of these injuries have been pretty frustrating. All three out of my control."
Hellickson said he felt discomfort in his wrist from the first pitch of the at-bat, but attempted to remain in the game. By the time he swung through the next pitch, he felt the same kind of pain as his initial injury and knew he could not continue. Andrew Stevenson came into the game to finish the at-bat and struck out.
Prior to the injury, Hellickson's return to the mound Saturday had been going well. In three innings, he held Atlanta to one unearned run, thanks to his own throwing error, with a walk and a strikeout.
"I love taking the ball every fifth day and competing and just going out there with these guys," Hellickson said. "To only make 19 starts, it sucks. But I've just got to think about other things and try to get healthy."
This had been Hellickson's first start since August 15 when he sustained the sprained wrist trying to break his fall while covering home plate. Hellickson had hoped to make a few more starts before entering the winter as a free agent, so he worked his way back from the injury with a few bullpen sessions and by testing himself during a simulated game. He was activated from the DL earlier this week.
The Nats signed Hellickson near the end of Spring Training to serve as their fifth starter and he was successful in the role. When healthy, he was one of the team's most consistent starting pitchers, as the Nats limited the number of times he was allowed to face a lineup in a single game to excellent results. In 19 starts, he posted a 3.45 ERA, even though he only threw 91 1/3 innings.
But his season was derailed by two separate stints on the DL, for the wrist injury and for a freak hamstring injury, also sustained during a start on June 3 at SunTrust Park, when he strained his hamstring covering first base after recording just one out.
"It's been tough for him. Weird injuries," manager Dave Martinez said. "Has nothing to do with his arm. His arm is in great shape. It's just little weird injuries."