Davey Martinez told reporters on Friday that after 32-year-old rookie Yadiel Hernandez made his MLB debut as a pinch runner in Thursday night’s series opener with Atlanta, he would be in the starting lineup at some point in the near future.
“I want to see him get some at bats up here,” the Washington Nationals’ manager explained.
“I want to see him play the field a little bit as well. Could be a possibility he plays left field tomorrow or if not tomorrow in the next coming days, but I want to get him out there and see what he can do.
“I know he can hit. I’m excited to see him play. Like I said, here’s a guy that hits the ball hard, very hard to all fields, so I want to see what he can do.”
Hernandez didn’t start, or play, on Friday, but on Saturday afternoon Martinez said that he’d penciled outfielder into the lineup for the third of four with their NL East rivals.
“He’s playing left field today, batting ninth,” Martinez said. Hernandez’s reaction to the news that he would get to play?
“He’s not one for showing a whole lot of emotion,” Martinez told reporters, “but I know he’s excited.
“I just told him to just go out there and have fun. I said, ‘Do your thing, you know you’re here because I know you can hit, I know you can play, and you deserve it.
“‘So go out there and have fun and try to help us win a ballgame.’”
Martinez has been able to watch a number of MLB debuts this season, and he said each of them have been special.
“For me it’s really fun to watch them and see the emotions,” he explained.
“As you know, I’m very emotional myself, but it’s — to see those guys get their first hit and watch their reaction. It’s pretty cool, and I’m glad to be a part of it.
“So hopefully today Yadi gets the first one out of the way early so we can relax and go play baseball and have fun.”
There were two on and two out in the second when Hernandez stepped up for the first time in the majors, against 22-year-old Braves’ rookie Ian Anderson, took a fastball inside and then fouled off a couple mid-90s fastballs, before spitting on a 1-2 curve, fouling off a changeup, low and in, taking a fastball up high, 3-2, and striking out on a changeup up high.
Hernandez laid off a high 1-2 fastball in his second trip to the plate, but took a 2-2 curve in on the knees that was called strike three (though the job Braves’ catcher Tyler Flowers did pulling the pitch up into the zone probably argued against the call), 0 for 2, 2 Ks.
Adam Eaton singled in front of Hernandez in the first at bat of the eighth, with the Braves up 2-0, and stole second base on the first pitch, but the rookie outfielder K’d swinging on a 1-2 cutter from veteran reliever Shane Greene, leaving him 0 for 3 with 3 Ks overall.