Matt Adams went 1 for 5 with a three-run home run in last night’s 7-5 win, leaving him with a .270/.306/.556 line, six doubles, and 10 home runs in 33 games and 134 plate appearances as a starter this season. His homer, off Miami Marlins’ left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, left him 8 for 29, with a .276/.300/.552 line, two doubles and two homers off of left-handed pitchers this season.
“He’s been doing really well,” manager Davey Martinez said of Adams’ success in limited at bats against lefties, “... and he got a ball up in the strike zone and he’s not missing the balls that he should be hitting against lefties, and that’s the key, but he’s been getting the ball up against them.”
That also gives Washington’s second-year skipper confidence that he doesn’t have to hit for Adams when left-handers take the mound against the Nationals.
“When he’s swinging the bat well like that, and it’s the sixth inning, I really felt comfortable just leaving him in that spot,” Martinez said, though he had other options on the bench, as he noted in talking about what Adams’ contributions have meant to the team this season.
“He’s been awesome,” Martinez told reporters.
“I mean really has, between him, Howie [Kendrick], and even [Gerardo] Parra, the three of them playing first base, they’ve all been really good, you know, and accepted their roles.
“They all get a chance to play, and when they get a chance to play they do well.”
Kendrick has a .328/.381/.575 line, 10 doubles, and 12 HRs on the season. Martinez has been handling the 35-year-old carefully, something the veteran infielder said he’s appreciated.
“I’ll be 36 this year and there’s no secret, my body hurts from time to time,” Kendrick told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier this week.
“I don’t think there’s an ability for me to go out and play every day anymore. The way they’ve been using me, Davey and everybody have done a great job of giving me the days off that I need. Because I wake up some days and my body feels like crap, but I know I’m probably gonna pinch-hit or possibly go in the game, so I can still do those things. But every day? I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it every day and that’s no secret.”
Parra, since he joined the Nationals after getting released by the San Francisco Giants, has been an important addition on the field and in the clubhouse/dugout, with a .243/.291/.459 line, four doubles, and four home runs in 32 games and 16 starts with Washington.
Assuming there are not setbacks before tomorrow, however, Ryan Zimmerman (plantar fasciitis) is going to be added to the mix, when he joins the Nationals in Detroit for the three-game set with the Tigers, an ideal setting for his return from the Injured List and a rehab stint since the Nationals can work him back in slowly by taking advantage of the designated hitter.
“Zim is progressing nicely,” GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies in his weekly spot on Wednesday. “He DH’d yesterday. He will play nine innings today, and then we’ll make a decision on where he goes if he’s healthy and comes through that nine innings of playing a full nine inning game at first base and then we’ll make a decision. It works well for us because we go to Detroit, which employs a DH, if he was to be ready for that it would be advantageous for us to start him in a position where he could DH or play first base in a situation in the American League rule.”
Martinez, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman yesterday, discussed how he would handle playing time for everyone involved once Zimmerman is back, noting that they’ll need to get him back up to speed while keeping everyone else sharp.
“We have to be really careful with him,” the manager said. “And I’ve talked to him about it. He’s not going to come here and play every day nine innings. And he understands that Howie and Matt are both doing well, so they’re going to get some playing time as well.
“For me, it’s a good problem to have. Because regardless if they start or not, you’ve got two guys on the bench that can really do some damage somewhere along in the game. That’s a good problem to have, for me. We’ll figure all that stuff out once he’s ready and he gets here. And we’ll see how he’s doing on a daily basis.”
They’ll also have a roster decision to make, if they return to a seven-man bullpen since they are currently carrying eight relievers, or move one of their bench bats to make room for the 34-year-old first baseman.
“We haven’t decided what kind of moves we’re going to make,” Martinez said, but they have about 24 hours to make a choice, then see what Zimmerman has to offer after two months out of the lineup.