Davey Martinez talked early this spring about potentially moving Victor Robles to the top of the Washington Nationals’ order at times this season.
“We’re running a lot of different lineups, different numbers,” Martinez explained, “talking to a bunch of our analytical people.
“I would like to get Robles up at the top of the lineup — even if it’s just against left-handed pitching.”
Robles said he’d embrace hitting in the leadoff spot, as he did throughout his minor league career, if he was asked to do it.
“If it was my decision, obviously I would love to lead off more times than not,” Robles said in his first media availability of the spring last week.
While he said he was comfortable in that spot, and thought he could do some damage in the role, “the main goal,” Robles said, “... is to get on base any way I can, and using all my tools to do that, and take advantage of it once I am on base.”
Martinez talked before the Grapefruit League opener on Sunday about what he wants to see from the 23-year-old outfielder when he does lead off this spring.
“For me, I don’t want him to think much about anything right now,” Martinez said. “I just want him to work good at bats.
“As we get moving and get close, we’ll talk to him about some of the things we view as a leadoff hitter he needs to do.
“For him, it’s being aggressive in the strike zone, not chasing. The biggest thing with him is he’ll start chasing a lot.
“When he’s in the strike zone, and he swings at balls in the strike zone he hits the balls fairly well.
“So we want go kind of get him in the strike zone, and play the game. I just want him to play the game. Be a good situational hitter. A guy that gets on base and gets us going.
“As we all know, Victor brings a lot of energy every day, and we want him to actually hopefully start the games off with that energy and get us going early.”
Robles went 1 for 3 with an RBI single and two Ks in what ended up a 4-4 tie with the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.
Martinez said after the game that he liked Robles’s at bats in his 2021 debut.
“He revamped his swing a little bit, he was a little shorter to the baseball. He had some good swings today,” the manager said. “We’re definitely headed in the right direction.”
The fact that he was up there today, however, doesn’t mean anything is set in stone at this point.
“Right now I just kind of want to try some different things. Nothing is set in stone right now,” Martinez said.
“If Victor looks good at the leadoff spot, it may be something that we do down the road.
“So, the key right now is to try to get these guys at bats and try to get them ready so that we can start off the season on April 1st and these guys are all rip-raring to go.”