Nats Leave Open Possibility for ‘Surprise’ Adam Eaton Return

WASHINGTON — Adam Eaton couldn’t possibly return from ACL surgery this season, right?

The Nationals center fielder underwent surgery on May 9 — 16 weeks ago — for an injury sustained April 28, has progressed to “light baseball activities” in the recovery process, and is listed on the disabled list as being due back “possibly 2017.”

But, surely that’s just procedural.

“I’m going to give myself the best chance whatever I can as humanly possibly for my knee,” Eaton told reporters two weeks back.

Around that time, we compared his recovery timeline to that of Kyle Schwarber, who, in 2016, suffered a similar early-season injury and returned just in time for the World Series. But even that was a stretch, and Eaton’s surgery came later in the season than Schwarber’s.

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, during his weekly appearance with The Sports Junkies Wednesday, was asked how likely it was this scenario could play out.

“I asked you about a month or so about Adam Eaton, and could we see a Kyle Schwarber-like return?” Eric Bickel asked. “And you said, ‘No. That’s not in the plan, not gonna happen.’

“Yet I see him out there. He’s taking BP, he’s looking good. I know it’s only five months in, but guys are healing quicker than ever now with these ACLs. Is there any chance we could have a miraculous October return, or are you still 100 percent ruling that out?”

“As of right now, I’m ruling it out,” Rizzo said. “You put a percentage on it, I don’t expect him to play. He’s made great progress.”

“Don’t forget, you say ACL,” he said. “It’s ACL, it’s meniscus, it was ankle. A lot of stuff went into it. It was a horrific injury.”

“The other things that went into it,” he said, “you don’t play for six or seven months and you jump into a high-leverage playoff situation, it’s unfair for me to expect him to jump into that situation, first, when he’s not fully healthy and ready to go. And second of all, he hasn’t played in six or seven months or so and jump into that atmosphere. It’s not fair for him.

“It’s not fair for the other 24 guys who have grinded it out all year and have performed. I’m ruling it out. I’m not planning on it. But if something were to surprise me happily, I’d be glad to take it, but we’re certainly not planning on it.”

“Leaving the door open there a little bit!” Bickel exclaimed.

No, no. Of course not.

Right?

Follow @ChrisLingebach and @1067TheFan on Twitter

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