Osvaldo Abreu’s rough day bleeds into his night

Photo courtesy Samuel Getty / Harrisburg Senators

A professional baseball team taking batting practice before a game can resemble chaotic anarchy to an uninitiated viewer as hitters are taking their hacks in the cage, infielders are fielding ground balls, and players are working on baserunning all at the same time. But if you look long enough you can see the beauty in the detailed organization and the inherent rhythms that make everything simultaneously work perfectly in sync.

But sometimes one wrong step can bring the system crashing to a halt.

As the Harrisburg Senators prepared for their Opening Night clash with the rival Altoona Curve, a group was cycling through the batting cage as pitcher Austen Williams was hitting fungo groundballs to Drew Ward at third base. A mere couple of hours away from his Double-A debut, Harrisburg shortstop Osvaldo Abreu took that one wrong step into the path of Williams’ bat.

Abreu, the Nationals’ 21st ranked prospect per Baseball America, got dinged around the temple above the right eye that required medical attention and forced the 22-year-old Dominican to miss his turn in batting practice.

It was a rough start to a day that was about to go from bad to worse for Abreu and the rest of his teammates as the Senators committed five errors in a 5-3 loss to the Curve to start their 2017 season on a down note.

Abreu struck out three times in five hitless trips to the plate and accounted for one of the miscues with an errant throw on a routine grounder.

“He had a really good Arizona Fall League, but it’s a different level now so he has to really step up his preparation before the games,” manager Matt LeCroy said. “The game is a little faster at this level, but I think he’ll catch up. I think tonight, his first time at Double-A, it kind of sped up on him a little bit.”

Abreu wasn’t the only Senator struggling at both the plate and in the field as 29-year-old Cuban outfielder Yadiel Hernandez whiffed twice and committed two errors including a dropped pop fly.

The game, however, marked the first time Hernandez was playing competitively in a game that counted since he defected to the United States at the end of June in 2015. So it makes sense he was a little anxious in the batter’s box as he saw only nine pitches in his first three at-bats and swung at seven of them.

“I don’t know how much he played last year. We gave him a lot of opportunities in spring training because we knew he hadn’t played much the year before,” LeCroy said. “It’s his first time out. He works hard, he just had a tough night.”

“I don’t like to make excuses. We didn’t secure the baseball and it ended up costing us the night.” – – LeCroy on playing in temperatures in the thirties with a biting wind.

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