Kevin Long, Hitting Coach for the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals, told SiriusXM MLB Network Radio Power Alley hosts Jeff Joyce and Jim Duquette yesterday that he was happy to talk baseball for a change when he called in for an interview.
So ... he was, of course, asked how about filling the totally not-a-hole created by Anthony Rendon’s departure via free agency market this winter?
“Who did you? What’s that guy’s name? Rendon?” Long laughed. “Oh, man. We’re going to miss Anthony, and he was obviously a big part of our lineup and a big part of us winning the championship. I think we’re just going to have to fill it by guys just stepping just a little bit. Trea Turner maybe just being a little bit better. Adam Eaton being a little bit better. Howie Kendrick, certainly, doing what he does, but he’s going to have to pitch in and kind of overcome that. Starlin Castro is going to help, and Asdrúbal Cabrera, having that veteran is going to help, and then you mention Carter Kieboom as well. We’ve got some pretty good talent.”
Long said that the postponement of Spring Training, and the start of the 2020 campaign, brought an end to the experimentation manager Davey Martinez and his staff were doing while trying to figure out how to line things up this season in Grapefruit League action.
“We were trying to figure out the lineup right before Spring Training ended,” Long said.
“Thinking about who’s going to hit in the three-hole? Is it going to be [Juan] Soto? Do we move him up and then maybe put Howie behind him? Or do we put Howie third and put Soto behind him. There’s some things we can do. Eric Thames is going to be right in the middle of that lineup as well, I think him and [Ryan Zimmerman] will probably platoon, but there’s enough talent that we can fill that void, it’s again, it’s not easy losing a guy like Rendon.”
The Nationals, and the rest of the National League teams, will also, according to the plans that have been reported on thus far for a potential 2020 campaign, have to get used to a designated hitter in their lineups as well, something the former New York Yankees’ hitting coach has worked with before.
Long told the SiriusXM hosts he things having a DH in the NL in a shortened 2020 season makes sense.
“I was used to the DH for a long time and now I’ve gotten used to not having the DH,” Long said, “and I kind of like not having the DH for the fact that you can use all your guys, there’s pinch hitters involved, I get to know the pitchers a little bit more than I normally would, and they do a lot of work. So not having the DH or having the DH I think is a good move at this point.
“I think it’s going to be difficult enough for pitchers just to get their arms ready, and to go out there run the bases, get their hands ready, and take a few swings I think is a challenge, so I think it’s the right move and I think it’s the right call at this point.”
BONUS QUOTE: Long also talked about the World Series rings the Nationals finally got to see last week...
“Just first class all the way. I mean, terrific. I don’t have mine, but the picture basically told it all. I just think they put a lot of time and effort into it. I thought it turned out really, really — it just stands out. It’s really pristine and it looks nice. They got our sayings in there, ‘1-0 every day,’ ‘Finish the Fight,’ they had even the shark in there. They were pretty cool. I love the way they turned out.”