Before Tuesday night's win over the Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker talked about just how important his bench players were and how crucial it was to get them regular at bats to keep them sharp.
"You need to play them enough to kind of keep them relatively sharp in order for that 0 for 1 not to eat on them all week long," the 66-year-old manager explained.
"There's some couple guys, they don't need rest right now, their legs might be a little sore, but I need to get the other guys some at bats. When you need rest is when you've got twenty-in-a-row coming up here soon.
"Yeah, the bench is big time. That's why our decisions going out of Spring Training were so difficult when you're trying to get the proper bench to cover you in as many areas as you could."
Stephen Drew, who signed a 1-year/$3M deal this winter, was pretty much a lock for a spot on the Nats' bench from the start this Spring.
He came through with his first hit as a National late in Tuesday night's win, singling with one out in the eighth and scoring on Bryce Harper's two-run double in the 2-1 win.
"That was great," Baker said.
"That was his first hit as a National and I had told him before the game he's playing tomorrow. [Anthony] Rendon is getting the day off. And so I hope he can come through tomorrow as well as he did today."
Drew hit his first home run as a National on Wednesday night against the Braves, taking right-hander Matt Wisler deep to right-center in the fourth after the starter had thrown three relatively quick, scoreless frames.
Jayson Werth followed with a two-run homer later in the inning to put the Nationals ahead, 3-0.
Drew was penciled in at third, starting at the so-called hot corner for just the second time in his eleven-year career.
Baker said that's why Drew saw so much time at third this Spring.
"We tried to get him comfortable there, we played him probably more at third base than we did anywhere. That's the role of a utility man.
"I've got Anthony in there late in the game or if they bring in a left-hander. I just thought that Anthony might need a day, and Drew, we've got to try him sometime."
Drew finished the night 1 for 3 with the home run that got things started.
"I wasn't trying to do too much," Drew told reporters, including MLB.com's Bill Ladson:
"I got a pitch that ran back over. [Wisler] had a really good sinker working. I was fortunate enough to get a ball right there and put a good swing on it. It was good to get on the board."
"Stephen Drew's home run got us on the board and then [Jayson Werth] got a big booming two-out home run," Baker said.
"[Werth] needed it and we needed it. Then my bullpen came through and that was the ballgame."
Tanner Roark tossed seven scoreless and handed it off to Oliver Perez first and then Jonathan Papelbon, who locked down the Nationals' sixth win in seven games.
And they did it on a night when Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman were rested.
"Hey man, the bench is very valuable," Baker told reporters after the win.
"When you can give Anthony Rendon a rest and the guy [Drew] comes through and hits a big homer and puts it on the board, because the guy was dealing before that homer.
"Wisler was throwing ball excellent tonight. How many hits did we get, four on the night? And I think they got four. So it wasn't a whole bunch of hitting, but we had a couple of home runs that accounted for all our runs."
The win was Washington's fifth in five games with Atlanta this season and their thirteenth straight over Atlanta in D.C.