Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked to reporters before the series opener with the Arizona Diamondbacks in D.C. about dealing with all the injuries that have hit the back-to-back defending NL East champs early this season.
Until they get the likes of Daniel Murphy, Adam Eaton, Brian Goodwin, and Anthony Rendon back, the Nats’ General Manager said, they’re going to have to keep battling with the roster that they have.
“It’s a grind man,” Rizzo said. “Nobody said it would be easy. We’ve got a target on our back, we’re the National League East champs, and there are some good teams trying to chase us, and get that title, so we’ve been grinding away, we’re trying to play good baseball until we can get some reinforcements, and some of our really good players back in the lineup. I like the fact that younger players are getting opportunities, and I think they’re fared pretty well, and I think that we’ve played pretty well considering the lineups that we’ve had out there at times aren’t the lineups that we thought we were going to have at the end of April.”
On Friday night, the Nationals, who went 4-5 on the recently-completed road trip and came home 11-14 on the year, dropped a 5-4 decision to the D-backs. Martinez’s squad connected for eleven hits overall, but went 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position and ten left on base in the one-run loss.
Martinez was asked after the loss if he’s getting frustrated at this point.
“I don’t get frustrated,” the first-year skipper said. “It’s part of it. But at some point it will turn around and we’ll start cashing in. I really believe that. As long as we keep getting on base, keep working good at bats, when those big moments arise, they’ll come through, they will.
“So I’m not going to bash them, they’re playing hard. We’ve had opportunities. We’re not winning games, but they’re doing well. We just got to get that big hit.”
“Ten guys left on base, 11 hits, you should win a ballgame,” he continued. “We didn’t, so we’ve just got to keep plugging away.”
Is it a positive sign or any sort of sign that four of the last seven losses have been one run games?
“We’ve been close,” Martinez explained. “I would like to win some of these games, but let’s stay right there, like I said, we want to win those games and we will win those games. It’s just getting that one key hit in a big moment that will turn this thing around.”
“Just got to keep going, keep having good ABs and keep getting guys on base, when you do that, good things will happen,” Bryce Harper told reporters after going 0 for 3 with three left on base, two walks, and a strikeout, which came in one of the bigger at bats of the game.
With the score tied at 3-3 in the fourth, Harper stepped in against right-hander Zack Godley and K’d swinging at a 1-2 sinker outside after Godley started the at bat with four curves in a row.
“I think in that spot, bases loaded, he gave me one pitch to hit, it was a first-pitch curveball, and then everything else was off the plate,” Harper said.
“There’s a fine line of trying to stay awake in those at bats and not let them lull [you] to sleep and just try to have good at bats and see what happens.”
Howie Kendrick, who went 3 for 5 with a two-run home run in the loss, said you can’t let it get to you when he too was asked if it was tough not to get frustrated.
“I think you have to stay positive,” Kendrick said, “because that’s the only way you’re really going to get out of it. You can’t go out and think negative, I mean, you’ve just got to keep grinding. Right now not everybody is really swinging the bats the way we’re capable of and we’ve been kind of up and down with the bats a little bit, but guys are going to get rolling. We’ve been hitting balls hard all year, just hitting into some bad luck, but those things are going to turn around.”
“The pitching has been doing a really good job of giving us an opportunity to win,” Kendrick added, “and hopefully we’ll be able to do our part as position players.”