Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez updated reporters on Kurt Suzuki’s status as the veteran catcher waits for inflammation in his elbow to subside. Suzuki, who injured his right elbow throwing to second base during the series in SunTrust Park last weekend, isn’t back to throwing the ball yet, though he did take some swings recently.
“If he continues to do that, we’re trying to get him to hit on the field hopefully by early next week, and then we’ll go from there.”
As the second-year manager explained, however, they don’t want to rush Suzuki back, so they’re listening to the medical staff and the catcher himself.
“The biggest thing is to get that inflammation out of his elbow, and once we do that then we’ll see how far we can push him to get him ready, but a lot’s going to [depend] on him and what he feels and how he feels,” Martinez said.
For now, Suzuki’s hitting some, and trying to keep sharp any way he can as he works to stay in shape for when he’s ready to return.
“He’s just kind of emulating squatting and catching,” Martinez explained. “He’s just trying to stay in shape, so when he’s ready to throw, he’s ready.”
With Suzuki unavailable for now, and after Yan Gomes started seven straight, the Nationals turned to 25-year-old catcher Raudy Read in the middle game of the three-game set in the nation’s capital this weekend.
“I talked to him last night and told him he was going to play,” Martinez said before Saturday’s game.
“And I just want him to go out there and have fun. I told him, I said, ‘You just be you out there ... for me your biggest thing is to control the pitcher,’ and he’s worked with [Saturday’s starter Austin] Voth before, and just put down the right fingers, hitting is hitting, but you’re the captain out there when it comes to the game, so just be prepared and go out there and just have fun.”
Read finished up the minor league season with a .275/.317/.546 line, 17 doubles and 20 HRs in 82 games and 328 PAs at Triple-A Fresno in the Nationals’ system this season, coming off a 2018 campaign which saw him serve an 80-game PED suspension.
“I’m really anxious to watch him go out there and catch,” the manager added. “I talked to [Fresno manager] Randy Knorr about him and he said he did a really good job and really learned a lot, so this is his opportunity.”
“Really excited because it’s going to be my first start this year,” Read said when MASN’s Alex Chappell asked the backstop about starting behind the plate in the majors for the first time since 2017, “so I’m just ready for this opportunity.”
“I threw to him early in the season in Fresno,” Voth said of working with Read again, “so we have a little bit of a connection.”
“My last bullpen I threw to him,” the pitcher added, “... and we were working on certain situations and certain hitters, how we want to approach them.
“So we’ve already been talking about how we want to go about our business.”
“We’ve been talking,” Read said, “like a couple days ago, we’ve been talking and then trying to see what kind of signs he’s going to use and how he wants to attack all the hitters.
“Because it’s different here and he knows the hitters maybe a little more than I do, because he’s been here a little more than me.”
Read was also taking the opportunity to pick the brains of his fellow catchers, to learn as much as he can from Suzuki and Gomes.
“I talk to them a lot and see how they like to call the game and try to learn from them,” Read said, “... because they’ve been in this league more than me, and we talk and they teach me a lot of stuff about how to calm down and how to call the game.”
All the work paid off, as Voth and Read managed to make their way through five scoreless against the Braves as they worked to preserve a 1-0 lead. Voth left the mound with one on and two out in the sixth, but the runner who reached while he was in the game scored to leave him with one run allowed on four hits.
Read went 1 for 3 at the plate, connecting for his 4th major league hit, and his first since 2017.