With two weeks to go before the season opener, Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez likes what he’s seen from his club in Spring Training, but the goal is to get all players through the Grapefruit League schedule healthy and ready for 2021 campaign.
“I like a lot of different things,” Martinez said on Monday, when he was asked if he’s settled on a lineup configuration that he likes with the players he has available to him this season.
“When I look at our lineup, we got some guys here that accept their walks. I know we had the [Juan] Sotos, but we got some guys now that lengthen our lineup just because they’ll take their walks and then next guy gets up, so it’s kind of nice. So I’m toying around with different things in the middle of the lineup, where to hit different guys, still talking about— I know [Victor] Robles is doing really well in the leadoff spot, do we want to keep him there? We’re talking about that.”
The discussion about having Robles lead off, allowing Trea Turner and Juan Soto to hit 2-3 has been a big topic this spring, with the manager, hitting coach Kevin Long and Robles all working hard to see if the 23-year-old outfielder is able to focus on getting on base at the top of the lineup.
“I like what I’ve seen so far,” Martinez said of the early returns on the Robles experiment.
“That doesn’t mean Opening Day he leads off, or he doesn’t lead off, but there are going to be some days where I want him to lead off because I think he can get on base for Trea and Juan and [Josh] Bell and those guys. We’ll see how it all plays out. But I like what Robles is doing a lot.”
It’s not just Robles in the leadoff spot that Martinez is happy with this spring.
“I like where a lot of guys — I like what Bell is doing. I know [Kyle] Schwarber is going to be Schwarber, he’s going to get his walks.
“He’s working with K-Long every day to get better. Starlin [Castro] looks amazing.
“He’s not going to walk,” Martinez joked of the relatively walk-averse infielder’s tendency to swing and make contact, “but he’s going to put the ball in play.
“I like that. I don’t want to put anything in his head about taking his walks because he sees the ball and hits it. You’ve got [Alex] Avila, you got [Yan] Gomes who will take his walks.
“We’ll see. Like I said, I’m going to toy around with it. Probably the next few days you’ll see a different lineup.”
Andrew Stevenson led off in Monday’s matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals, and Martinez’s plan is to mix things up a bit over the final two weeks to make sure everyone is ready for the start of the season.
“We’re going to try some different things, and by April 1st we’ll have eight guys out there that we feel like are the guys to get us to win that first game.”