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Washington Nationals News & Notes: Weekend off; Josh Harrison building + more

While you wait for the finale of the four-game set with the Blue Jays, some Nationals updates...

MLB: Washington Nationals at Toronto Blue Jays Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

MLB’s decision to postpone the Miami Marlins’ games this week, with 16 players now testing positive for COVID-19, leaves the Washington Nationals with a four-day weekend since there was a planned trip to Florida and a day off on Monday. A four-day break in the first week of a 60-game in 66-day season? That’s weird, right? How do the Nats plan to spend the break?

Are they planning more intrasquad games? Are there any restrictions on what they’re able to do?

“We’re really honestly trying to figure out all that stuff right now,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters before last night’s game.”

“Because if you think about it,” he said, “our schedule, if we don’t play Friday, Saturday, Sunday, on our schedule we’re off Monday too, so we’re going to try to keep these guys moving around as much as possible.

“I’m assuming we’re going to play some kind of sim game, we don’t know when.

“It all depends on the pitching, and how much we use our bullpen in the next couple days, who needs to throw, and all that stuff.

“I’m sitting down with Paul [Menhart] each day to kind of put a definitive [plan] together and I’ll let you guys know as soon as I can.”

Fedde’s Turn Again:

With Stephen Strasburg unavailable as the Nationals’ 2019 World Series MVP works back from a nerve impingement in his right wrist/thumb, Erick Fedde, who took Stras’s spot in the rotation this past Saturday, will go again in the finale of the four-game series with the Blue Jays today.

Fedde will get the start tomorrow,” Martinez said yesterday.

“And then we’ll have to regroup and go from there. We’ve got some days coming up, so we’re kind of sitting down talking about different options that we might have.”

Harrison’s Legs:

Martinez will likely have another option (or two if Juan Soto’s cleared to return by Tuesday as expected) off the bench with Josh Harrison, who joined the club this week after he got released by the Phillies earlier this month, building towards his debut with the Nationals.

“He’s doing well,” Martinez said of the work the 33-year-old infielder/outfielder has done since he got to D.C. “We’re just trying to get his legs underneath him a little bit. But he’s doing well. He’s taking extra BP. I told him he’s going to end up playing — he’s a guy that can play multiple positions, so we want to make sure that his legs are good.

“So far he’s been awesome and full of energy. He loves the game, he’s cheering for his teammates. He’s a student of the game, so having him here has been a blessing.”

Offense Early:

Will Harrison, who hasn’t exactly torn things up at the plate in recent seasons, provide a spark for the Nationals, who started the day on Wednesday with a .243 AVG, 10th in the majors, and just 14 runs scored in five games, 26th out of 30 MLB teams? Martinez said it isn’t just the Nats who are struggling at the dish, and it might have something to do with Spring Training 2.0 being an expedited process.

“I think at this point I think just like you see in Spring Training, that the pitchers are a little bit more ahead of the hitters,” Martinez said, “and it’s all a timing thing. You could simulate all the games you want, but when the season starts, everything amps up, guys are throwing a little harder. These guys have just got to catch up, and their timing has got to catch up.

“Every pitch is different, timing is different, but these guys make adjustments I think you’re going to start seeing guys — we’ve already, five or six games in, you’re going to see guys start making those adjustments, and you’ll see the batting average start going up a little bit.”

Robles’s Spot:

The third-year manager also talked about the offense he’s gotten from Victor Roble so far.

Robles, 23, entered play on Wednesday night 5 for 15 (.333/.412/.600) with a double and a home run in five games (after he missed the first two weeks of Spring Training 2.0 while he was quarantined). Martinez has had him in the bottom of the order, batting 7-9 early in the season, but will that change if he continues producing with the bat?

“Right now I kind of like him at the bottom,” Martinez said.

“Then again — here’s a guy that missed a significant amount of time earlier too, and we just got him back, so just having him on the field right now and him playing like he’s playing has been awesome for us. So we want to keep him there for right now. As he gets going, who knows, we might try to hit him up at the top.”

Robles went 0 for 3 with three Ks in last night’s win...

Howie Kendrick Update:

Howie Kendrick was a late scratch from last night’s game, with an upper back issue. After the win, Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez talked to reporters about what’s going on with the veteran infielder.

“He’s going to be day-to-day, he’s got upper back tightness. So we’ll see,” Martinez said.

“He couldn’t get loose. So we waited, I tried to wait as long as I could, but I finally had to make a decision. I told him, ‘If you’re available to pinch hit, great.’ But I’m glad we didn’t have to use him, we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”

That’s all we have for now. Game is at 4:05 PM ET today, if you weren’t aware. See you then.