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Prospect Daylen Lile leaves Nats spring training game on stretcher

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Washington Nationals prospect Daylen Lile was taken off the field on a stretcher Saturday afternoon, just seconds after the start of his first spring training of 2024. The 21-year-old outfielder was returned to the Boston Red Sox bullpen at JetBlue Park. while chasing a home run in the seventh inning, landing out of sight behind the wall in such a way that Red Sox relievers frantically called the coaches.

Lile was taken to the hospital to undergo a CT scan of his lower back, Warden Dave Martinez said. A member of Washington’s training staff will stay with him until he can return to West Palm Beach, where the Nationals have their spring training facility. The team hopes to learn more about the nature and severity of Lile’s injury on Sunday.

“It was his lower back, that’s all I can tell you. Hit it hard enough, hit the ground,” Martinez said. “He will be examined. When we left, he was moving his feet and legs. Hopefully everything goes negative again. We will pray for him.

Immediately after the injury, Martinez and Washington athletic training director Paul Lessard rushed to tend to Lile. When they reached him, Martinez said, Lile was motionless, but cameras captured him moving his right arm as he lay on his side while Lessard and others tried to assess his injury. A delay of approximately 15 minutes occurred as coaches from both teams and paramedics tended to Lile, who was placed on a stretcher and carried through the center field gate. Lile gave a thumbs up as she left.

“When you see someone go over the wall like that and you don’t see them get up, then everyone in the pen started calling like that, you think, ‘Oh no,'” Martinez said, who expressed his gratitude to Boston’s coaches and doctor. “Just hope he didn’t hit his head or his neck.”

Lile was ranked as the Nationals’ 11th best prospect by Baseball America entering 2024. Washington selected the outfielder in the second round of the 2021 draft out of Kentucky, and he missed the entire 2022 season while returning from Tommy John surgery. Lile participated in spring training games for the Nationals last season before putting together a good performance in 2023 split between low Class A Fredericksburg and high Class A Wilmington. He hit .269 with an .807 OPS.

That’s because Lile’s pursuit of that flyball to right center Saturday was so quick and fearless that it swung so high over the half-wall that separates Boston’s bullpen from the field at JetBlue Park – a wall that mimics the equally short wall at Fenway Park. .

“I know Daylen, that’s how he plays,” Martinez said. “For a second I thought he got it. He plays the game the right way.

When it became clear that Lile’s injury was serious and his shaken teammates knelt in the outfield, the umpires asked Martinez if he wanted to end the game. He said he considered dropping the final two rounds, but decided it would be best for everyone’s psyche to continue playing.

“In my heart, I kept telling myself, ‘He’s going to be okay,’” Martinez said. “I’d rather the boys don’t think about it.” Go out and finish the game.”

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