Hi again. We’re back with another edition of our Spring Training notes and quotes for your Washington Nationals, where we share some news that you need to know, that likely won’t end up in a separate story. It’s a nice, and more importantly, a quick way to keep you up to date on all things Nationals, without boring you with all of that annoying context-y stuff and stat-based analysis. [ed. note - “We’re not sure you could do stat-based analysis if you tried to. What? Too aggressive?”] But really, we usually include some context and stuff, and some stats. [ed. note - “Then why even bother with the previous sentence?”] Let’s all see what’s up today...[ed. note - “Yeah, let’s...”]
Here are some of the highlights from manager Davey Martinez’s pregame Zoom call with reporters on Monday...
Parra Shark Attack!:
Over the weekend, after watching Gerardo Parra (who is coming off knee surgery) play in the B-game the club held, manager Davey Martinez estimated that the veteran outfielder was at about 85% in terms of his recovery. Martinez did, however, say that Parra would be playing in a Grapefruit League game at some point this week.
On Monday morning, the Nationals’ skipper penciled Parra in for the game against the St. Louis Cardinals, with the 33-year-old outfielder batting sixth and playing left field in their matchup in Jupiter, FL.
What did he want to see from Parra in his 2021 debut?
“I just want him to be himself,” Martinez said. “I’ve got to keep an eye on him. Like I said, he’s probably about 90-95%, so we’re just going to keep an eye on him and make sure he gets his work. The big thing is to get him back out there, have him run the bases a few times, and see how he feels after that. So, we got to get his at bats. I know he’s been getting his at bats against live BP, but now this is real live game action, so it’s going to be good to see him back out there.”
Parra went 1 for 3 with a single in his first Grapefruit League game, and his manager liked what he saw.
“He looked good. He ran well. Ran down some balls in the outfield. Cut a ball off and got it in quickly. He’s getting there. He looks good. Got a base hit. Hit the first ball pretty hard up the middle, but he looks good.”
Stephen Strasburg was humming along on Sunday before he felt something in his calf while delivering a pitch and shut it down after a brief conversation on the mound.
“It was really not much of a discussion, just wanted to pinpoint exactly what he was feeling. Other than that he was coming out of the game,” Martinez said.
The news from the doctors was relatively positive, and Strasburg dismissed any concerns it might be a long-term issue. So what’s the next step? Would missing a start at this point be a problem with the start of the season fast approaching?
“I think we can make it work,” Martinez explained. “I talked to [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey this morning about it. If we had to pitch him maybe on the sixth day or the seventh day, but then after that, then it will be some kind of adjustment. So hopefully today he gets some treatment, and he feels good. And we can get him back out there and just kind of throw a little bit, and see where he’s at, but his calf is going to dictate that, and when he gets in and gets his treatment we’ll see how he feels.”
The test for Strasburg to pass before he starts again?
“For me it’s just going to be him stepping on it a little bit,” Martinez said. “Maybe throwing a side or a few pitches just to see how he feels, because it is his plant foot, so we want kind of emulate how it happened and make sure that it won’t happen again.”
Max and Alex:
They worked together 107 times when both of them were with the Tigers, and so far this spring, Alex Avila and Max Scherzer have been paired up for each of the starter’s starts.
So, will Avila be Scherzer’s personal catcher this season? Yan Gomes is expected to get the bulk of the work. So how will it, uh, work?
“I know that Gomes has caught him, Alex has caught him in the past,” Martinez said.
“It’s been a lot of years, so I kind of want to get Alex familiar with [Scherzer]. He’s trying to catch — we’re trying to get him to catch everybody, but it just so happens that it’s Avila’s day to catch, but it’s kind of nice that he’s working with Scherzer. That doesn’t mean that Yan won’t catch him eventually, but Yan is very familiar with catching Scherzer.”
How will he determine the pairings?
“If everything goes well, Yan is going to get the bulk of the catching this year,” Martinez told reporters.
“So with that being said, I want Alex to learn these guys, to build these relationships with these pitchers because I think that’s really important.
“And then go from there, but as you know if things — if we need to catch Alex two or three times in a week then I want him to be prepared to do that.”
Scherzer tossed four scoreless, giving up two hits and striking out seven batters.
“He got to see every pitch, I was throwing every single pitch today. And just how that plays,” Scherzer said after the game.
“For him, now he can see that and he understands, then the fun begins in the season where we start getting reports and how we actually want to truly attack hitters.”