ATLANTA -- Immediately after he stepped on the first-base bag awkwardly, Nationals right-hander Jeremy Hellickson reached back for his right hamstring. He limped down the line and tried to walk it off, but with each step his hamstring continued to grab.Hellickson was forced to leave the game, just one batter
ATLANTA -- Immediately after he stepped on the first-base bag awkwardly, Nationals right-hander Jeremy Hellickson reached back for his right hamstring. He limped down the line and tried to walk it off, but with each step his hamstring continued to grab.
Hellickson was forced to leave the game, just one batter into the team's 4-2 loss to the Braves on Sunday, with what the team is calling a right hamstring strain. He is scheduled to receive an MRI on Monday in Washington.
"It's very frustrating," Hellickson said. "That's exactly what you didn't want to have happen … the bullpen throws seven shutout yesterday, and now they've got to get 26 outs."
With one out in the first inning, Ozzie Albies hit a bouncing ground ball to Mark Reynolds at first base, who made a high, errant throw to Hellickson as he raced for the bag. Hellickson extended his arms and missed the ball when he felt his hamstring grab. He wanted to go to the mound to test it, but manager Dave Martinez decided against it and pulled him from the game after four pitches.
Right-hander Jefry Rodriguez, who was promoted to the Majors earlier Sunday morning, took the mound in his place to make his Major League debut. The 24-year-old held the Braves scoreless over 4 2/3 innings. He threw 63 pitches, allowed four hits and struck out three. Rodriguez threw 87 pitches in a Minor League game on Thursday.
Hellickson thought back to pulling his hamstring badly a few years ago and took some optimism that this injury did not feel as painful. The Nationals would not say whether he was headed for the disabled list, but with off-days in the schedule they could go through the rotation without a fifth starter until June 19. Washington hopes it will not be without Hellickson for that long. Since joining the rotation as their fifth starter, he has provided stability with a 2.28 ERA in nine starts.
"I know [injuries are] part of the game that we don't like," Martinez said. "It stinks. But it happens, so it's unfortunate that it's happened a lot this year, but we just gotta keep playing. I got all the confidence in the world in the guys we've got.
"They've been doing well. They've been playing well. We've just got to keep our heads up."
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.