Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that Washington Nationals left fielder Josh Willingham will likely undergo season ending surgery next week. Willingham had been battling pain stemming from an injury to the meniscus in his left knee since the All-Star break:
“It’s almost a certainty he’s going to have season-ending surgery next week,’ said Matt Sosnick, Willingham’s agent. ‘They want him to clean it up so he can come in fresh for the season next year.’
The Nationals will likely wait until Thursday, when center field Nyjer Morgan will return from the disabled list, to place Willingham on the disabled list. Manager Jim Riggleman said Willingham may be available to pinch-hit tonight, but it appears Willingham is not taking batting practice with the Nationals.”
The surgery will bring an end to what had been a career season for Willingham. In 114 games he has hit .268/.389/.459 with 16 homers and 56 RBI, posting the highest OBP of his career in the process. However those numbers have slipped since the all-star break, after Willingham’s knee began to bother him. In the first half he hit .281/.411/.502 with 15 homers and 46 RBI.
This injury will leave a major hole in the Nationals lineup which will be near impossible for the club to replace. Luckily for Washington, the hit wont be as bad with the team out of contention at this point in the year. In fact the hit will likely be felt the most by Willingham, who stood to gain a huge raise in arbitration this offseason. With the injury, his two year averages will be lower and his durability will be thrown into question.
Having Willingham out of the lineup will also allow Washington to be more flexible in their lineup, giving more minor league call ups chances to play.