Heading into Spring Training 2.0, Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said he expected 22-year-old infielder Carter Kieboom to see a lot of time at the hot corner this season.
“I anticipate in the 60-game season, he’s going to go out there and play every day,” the manager told reporters.
“We feel like he’s going to hit here,” Martinez added, and they sent him away from Spring Training 1.0 with guidance on his defensive work.
“When he left [Bench Coach Tim Bogar] talked to him and [Third Base Coach] Chip [Hale] talked to him about his footwork, and really honing in on his footwork and getting his feet turned to where he’s going to throw at all times. So, I know he’s been working out. I know he’s hit tons, I know he’s faced live pitching.
“Tried to keep in shape the best he can. Tried to do some baseball activities as much as he can.
“So I’m looking forward to getting him back out here and getting him in the group and getting him ready.”
Kieboom said the vote of confidence from his manager meant a lot to him.
“That’s awesome,” Kieboom told reporters in D.C., “but I’ll be honest, the first thing that ran through my head was, ‘Let’s keep the job.’ It’s one thing to get one, but it’s another thing to keep it and progress that way, so that’s kind of where my head’s at right now.”
Whether it’s a change in thinking over the last two-plus weeks, or just an acknowledgement that veteran infielder Asdrúbal Cabrera is going to get some starts at third base as well, the lineup for the first of three exhibition games before Opening Day had Cabrera penciled in at third base, with Kieboom coming off the bench in last night’s matchup with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Martinez’s thinking in going with Cabrera?
“I like Cabby being the veteran guy,” Martinez said. “Go out there at the beginning of the game, and the younger guy come in and pick him up.
“Both of those guys are going to play third base, they know that, so it was nice to see Cabby out there early, and then Kieboom went up there and got an at bat, popped the ball up, but he had a good swing.”
So, has his thinking about who’s going to get the majority of starts at third changed over the past few weeks at Spring Training 2.0? Is Kieboom going to start at third base?
“He’s going to play,” Martinez said. “He’s my third baseman, but we definitely want to play Cabby as well. So, he’s definitely going to be out there, he’s going to play, and like I said, Cabby is going to play some third.
“He’s going to play some second, and play some first, possibly DH, so we’ll see when we start up, see where we’re at.”
GOOD NEWS: There was some good news coming out of Saturday’s workouts and the game with the Phillies. Victor Robles, who’s been quarantined for two weeks after he’d come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, came back.
Howie Kendrick and Juan Soto, who were in the same situation, returned earlier this week, and the Nationals were waiting on word that Robles was cleared to rejoin the team.
Five days before Opening Day, he’s back, apparently. Robles was in the dugout last night as the Nationals took on their NL East rivals.
“Very excited to have him back,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters.
“He worked out today. He looked okay. I want to see how he turns around tomorrow.
“We’ve got a sim game tomorrow, he’s going to get a bunch of at bats and we’ll see how he feels. We’re going to have to take it one day a time with him.
“But he moved around pretty good. He said he felt good. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. I spoke to him after the game, and he said he feels okay, a little tired, but he said he’ll bounce back tomorrow.”