Hi, friendo. We are back with yet another edition of our Spring Training notes and quotes for your Washington Nationals, where we share 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 - “What’s wrong with context and stats?”] 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 - “Let’s... how long is he going to keep doing this with the intros?”]
Here are some of the highlights from manager Davey Martinez’s pregame Zoom call with reporters on Monday...
Through five games this spring, noted Grapefruit League-averse player Ryan Zimmerman is 6 for 13 with a double and three home runs. Not bad, old-timer.
What has his manager seen?
“Ryan has done an unbelievable job of coming into Spring Training in really great shape. He looks great,” Davey Martinez told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.
“He feels good. Like I said before, it’s nice to have him here, and he’s doing unbelievable.
“He’s seeing the ball well right now. As he said he doesn’t want to peak too soon, but it’s nice to see him swinging the bat the way he’s swinging.
“My big thing is to keep him healthy going into April 1st, and we’ll go from there.”
Josh Bell hit his second home run of the spring on Tuesday night, in the Nationals’ game with the Marlins. And it was a bomb apparently.
“I joked around with him after,” Martinez told reporters.
“I told him, ‘That sounded like Opening Day of Duck Season.’ It was really loud. But yeah, that’s what he can do. He’s got power to all fields.
“That ball was hit very well. A lot of his balls, even his line drives, base hits, are hit hard, so it’s good to see he’s working good at bats.
“Made a nice play at first base on the foul ball, so he’s having a lot of fun. He’s a joy to be around. He loves the game. Loves being here.
“His teammates really, really love him, so it’s going to be a fun year for him.”
Bell went 2 for 3 on Tuesday, leaving him 7 for 22 on the spring (.318/.385/.727).
Starlin’s Not Walking:
Martinez often praises his players’ ability and willingness to take their walks, but while he was doing so again on Monday, he said that one player who probably won’t walk a whole bunch is Starlin Castro. He did laugh about it while talking.
“He’s not going to walk,” Martinez joked, “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.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the fourth-year skipper was asked about Castro’s lack of walks, and what he liked about the veteran infielder’s approach at the plate this spring.
“For Starlin, who is a very unique hitter, and we always talk about his bat-to-ball skills, he — he’s a guy for me that we don’t want to take away his aggressiveness up at the plate. So if you start preaching to him about taking pitches and taking his walks, he might not be as aggressive swinging at the balls we know he can hit. One thing about Starlin, if you look at him, he can hit bad balls and put balls in play, and he does it. I’ve seen him hit balls almost on the ground for base hits, so we don’t ever want to take that away from him. We want him to always be aggressive.”
Strasburg, Lester, and Rainey Updates:
Stephen Strasburg (calf) and Jon Lester (surgery to remove one of four parathyroid glands) are working their way back and building up and they’ll each take steps in that progression soon according to their manager.
“Strasburg is going to throw on flat ground today,” Martinez said on Tuesday afternoon.
“We’ll see how he feels and then we’ll go forward from there. He came in today, he said he felt okay, so he’s going to throw a little bit and we’ll reevaluate after. Lester will throw in a game as of right now, on Thursday.”
Will Lester, who was working towards making his first start of the spring before he left the club to have surgery, so where will he be once he does get on the mound? Will he start as though he were making his first appearances of the spring?
“When he threw his live [batting practice], he threw it like a sim game the other day, he got up to about 40 pitches, but like I said, it was kind of a controlled environment. So we’ll see. He says he feels real good. We’ll see how [far] he can go.
“We definitely want to get him two innings, I figure stretch him to get into that third inning, we’ll see if we can do that.”
Tanner Rainey (soreness around collar bone area according to his manager) is going to take another step in his progression as well.
“He’s going to throw a sim game on Thursday,” Martinez said.
“He’s doing well, he feels good, so he’ll throw another sim game on Thursday, and if that goes well, hopefully we’ll get him in a game a few days after that.”
The plan for Rainey when he does throw next?
“He’s been roughly throwing anywhere between 20-25 pitches. But we’ll see. We got him — last time we got him to three outs, which is what we wanted to do. Basically an inning.
“We might push it a little bit more, maybe get four outs out of him in this next one. We’ll see how he feels.”