Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez went with an outfield mix that featured Adam Eaton in left, Michael A. Taylor in center, and Bryce Harper in right field against Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia in Tuesday night’s series opener in New York. He explained that he just wanted Juan Soto to rest, even though he’d hit lefties well to that point, and said he’s trying to work all of his outfielders in now that there’s a bit of a logjam on the major league roster.
“We’ll have to look at all the matchups and look at different numbers,” Martinez said.
“I want Michael out there as much as possible, I do. Like I said, to me he’s a Gold Glover, and he’s actually playing really well, but with that being said, we have some pretty special outfielders all the way around, so they all have to get a chance to play. Soto has been up here and has done an incredible job, and I thought today was a good day to give him a day off. He gets two days. He hasn’t had one yet, so he gets two days off, so he comes back and he feels fresh, and I want to keep them all fresh.
“Same thing with Adam,” the first-year skipper continued.
“I told him that when he came back, ‘I want to keep you healthy and I want to keep you fresh.’ We’re getting into the middle of the summer, where as you know, back at home it gets really hot, so days off are not bad for any of these guys.”
Wednesday night’s outfield featured Soto in left, Harper in center, and Eaton in right, which prompted questions about whether that’s where Martinez would keep Eaton as the veteran works back from an ankle injury and surgery, a year after he blew out his knee and suffered a sprained ankle in April of 2017.
“For right now,” Martinez told reporters, “as we get Eaton going, and see where he’s at as he continues to play and get a lot more playing time. I like Harper in center. Like I said, he gets really good jumps and sees the ball a lot better over there.”
While Taylor has been on quite a run in recent weeks, going 20 for 63 (.317 AVG) with seven doubles, two triples, two home runs, 10 RBIs, seven walks, six stolen bases, and seven runs scored over his last 19 games, with hits in 15 of those 19, he still had a .212/.294/.356 line vs right-handed pitchers on the season as the Nats started a three-game set in Toronto, and a .236/.276/.431 line against lefties so far in 2018.
With hard-throwing right-hander Aaron Sanchez on the mound for the Blue Jays in the first of three in Toronto last night, Taylor sat again, with Soto, Harper, and Eaton left to right in the Nationals’ outfield.
Martinez said he talked to Taylor, however, to assure the 27-year-old outfielder that he was going to play.
“I talked to him and he gets it, and I told him don’t read into nothing, you’re going to play.
“I told them all, ‘Hey, we’ve got some pretty good outfielders, but you’re all going to get a chance to play. So, just keep your heads up and when I ask you to participate in a game, be ready.
“Things change like that,” Martinez added with a snap of his fingers. “And he understands. Mike’s a professional. He’s the best center fielder I’ve seen, and we need him out there, so he gets it.”
For the second game of the series with the Blue Jays this afternoon, Martinez has Taylor out in center again, with right-hander Marco Estrada on the mound for Toronto. Eaton’s the DH, with Soto in left and Harper back in right.