Washington Nationals centerfielder Adam Eaton has suffered a torn left knee ligament and will likely miss the remainder of the Major League Baseball season, general manager Mike Rizzo said Sunday.
Eaton, obtained for three young pitchers in a December trade deal with the Chicago White Sox, had been the leadoff hitter in the batting order for the Nationals, who lead the National League at 16-8.
Eaton was injured in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday as he ran to first base to beat out an infield single.
His left leg struck the first base bag at a weird angle and Eaton was carried off the field. An MRI exam Saturday showed the torn anterior cruciate ligament.
"His return to this season is unlikely but we don't know until the doctors get in there and we'll see what the surgery leads us to believe," Rizzo said.
"It's a big piece of our team that has been taken from us, but we can't dwell on that. Every team in baseball goes through these types of things and this is a good, special player for us that's hurt."
Rizzo said injuries such as that suffered by Eaton typically require six to nine months for full recovery, a timetable that would make even a World Series appearance unlikely at the most optimistic result.
"It's probably the worst pain I've ever felt in my life," Eaton said. "When I heard it pop I thought it was my ankle. I looked down to basically see if I saw any bones and make sure that everything was still there."
The left-handed hitter is batting .297 (27-for-91) over 23 games with seven doubles, two home runs and 13 runs batted in.
Nationals shortstop Trea Turner will move into the leadoff batter role while Michael Taylor takes over centerfielder duties. Taylor had three hits Saturday starting in Eaton's place.
"We're comfortable. We think we have the offense to compensate for Adam," Rizzo said. "We feel we have the personnel specifically at that position to compensate for him. It's one of the greatest depth positions we have in the organization, so we feel good about that."
Taylor batted .231 over 76 games last season and began this year with a career mark of .228 over 231 games.
Nationals manager Dusty Baker said he had no plans of moving star rightfielder Bryce Harper to center.