Brian Dozier got off to a rough start in the first month-plus of the 2019 campaign, going 16 for 87 (.184/.297/.333) with a double, four home runs, 13 walks, and 29 Ks in 26 games and 101 plate appearances after joining the Washington Nationals on a 1-year/$9M deal over the winter.
Since May 1st, however, the 32-year-old veteran has started to turn things around, going 14 for 55 (.255/.339/.400) with two doubles, two homers, six walks, and 17 Ks in 17 games and 62 PAs.
Dozier is 5 for 9 in two games against the Chicago Cubs this weekend with a double and a home run after he took Jon Lester deep in his first trip to the plate last night and singled to center the second time up.
“He’s starting to swing the bat better,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters after a 2 for 4 game for Dozier last night in the Nationals’ 5-2 win.
“He’s working with [hitting coach Kevin Long], and they’re trying to really stay in the middle of the field, and he’s actually had some really good swings as of late, so hopefully he keeps going. The beautiful thing about him is he’s a grinder, he’s a gamer, and if you watch him play he takes pride in defense and today he made some really good plays, but he’s starting to swing the bat better.”
Juan Soto has also been grinding away, trying to get going at the plate after a slow-ish start and back spasms which led to a 10-game stint on the Injured List.
Soto popped out behind home in an RBI opportunity in his first at bat last night, but went 2 for 2 with a walk in his next three plate appearances, doubling to drive in two runs in at bat No. 2, singling to right to drive in one more in his third at bat, and taking a two-out walk in a final plate appearance in the second of three with the Cubs in D.C.
Soto is 4 for 7 with two doubles and two walks in the first two games with the Cubbies, and his manager said last night he’s liked what he’s seen from the 20-year-old slugger.
“Didn’t try to do too much,” Martinez said of the two hits Soto collected on Saturday.
“Just used his hands, put the ball in play. The biggest thing for him, and we talk about it all the time, is, ‘Hey, hit strikes. If they’re going to walk you, they walk you.’ He took a walk today, which is beautiful, and I keep telling him, I said, ‘Hey, take your walks. Your hits will come, just take your walks and don’t try to do too much.”
Having Dozier and Soto heat up as the Nationals get their injured players back after weeks without their expected everyday regulars could go a long way as Martinez and Co. try their best to turn things around.
Dozier and Soto are back in there tonight for the series finale with the Cubs...