In his first 25 games this season, 21 of them starts, Washington Nationals’ backstop Pedro Severino was 20 for 73, posting a respectable .274/.386/.356 line, six doubles, 11 walks, and 17 Ks in 88 plate appearances, but his offensive production fell off considerably not too long after No. 1 catcher Matt Wieters landed on the Disabled List a second time, leaving Severino to assume Wieters‘ duties as the Nats’ everyday catcher.
In his last 17 games, before he got a night off in New York following a 1 for 4 night against the Yankees in the first of two games in Yankee Stadium, the 24-year-old was just 5 for 53 (.094/.172/.113) with one double, four walks, and 13 Ks in 58 PAs.
While he got to rest on Wednesday night, Severino was hard at work long before the first pitch was thrown, participating in a long batting practice session alongside Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy when Yankee Stadium was practically empty outside of staff prepping for the gates to open.
“I’m just still working to stay behind the ball, drive the ball, and try to drive the ball to right,“ Severino said, when asked what he was out there focusing on.
“I just told [Hitting Coach Kevin] Long I wanted to hit with these guys because I could get a better idea and just watch them and take everything possible from them and just try to get better.”
It didn’t matter, he said, that he was out there watching two left-handed hitters.
“It doesn’t matter,” Severino explained.
”I just want to see how [they swing], how it‘s coming out, how they drive the ball away, and how they stay behind the ball and stay on their legs and all that stuff.”
The adjustment to playing every day hasn’t been the issue, Severino said, since that’s what he’s been used to doing in pro ball.
“I’m used to being in the minor leagues, I play every day, like five or six days a week or so,” he said.
“I just came here to play two or three a week and just prepare myself. I came to play three days a week and prepare myself to play six days a week, so it’s nothing different.”
Severino was a defense-first catcher on the way up through the system, with his offensive game a work in progress throughout his time in the organization.
Nats’ skipper Dave Martinez was clear from the start that pitch calling and the defensive end were more important than Severino‘s offensive production, but the catcher said he’s tried to balance the two, which isn’t always an easy thing to do.
“It’s hard to keep both sides,“ Severino acknowledged. “It’s hard to keep my offense and my defense, but I know my job. This is a winning team, so I have to get my defense really good, and just try to win the game every time when I play, and try to do my best.
“When I hit, that’s the moment I just think about hitting,” he explained. “If something happens good or bad, I don’t want to say I don’t care, because that’s my number.
“But I just want to be behind the plate and get my pitcher to throw seven or eight innings.”