Salut l’ami. We’re 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 - “People, generally, actually, seem to like context and stats, so still not sure why you always say this stuff.”] But really, we usually include some context and stuff, and some stats. [ed. note - “And then immediately contradict yourself. And don’t try to use that Walt Whitman contradiction quote.”] Let’s all see what’s up today...
[ed. note - “Let’s... see how long you can keep doing these dumb intros before someone complains.”]
Here are some of the highlights from manager Davey Martinez’s pregame Zoom call with reporters on Thursday...
We got the latest update on Stephen Strasburg on Thursday. Strasburg, 32, tweaked his calf in his last start, and was pulled from the outing, but both he and his manager downplayed it in terms of how the issue might set the starter back this spring after he missed most of the 2020 campaign with what was eventually diagnosed as carpal tunnel neuritis, which did in the end require surgery.
“Strasburg is doing well,” Martinez said before the Nationals’ matchup with the Mets in Port St. Lucie yesterday.
“He’s going to throw tomorrow, but we’re going to throw him in a sim game just so that we can control. But he said he feels fine. But we want to make sure that we can keep him under control. But we’re going to try to get him about four ups tomorrow. But he threw a bullpen yesterday and he said he had no issues, so that’s great.”
Martinez said the choice of setting was a sim game mainly so they could control everything, stop or pause of they need to, and take their time with the right-hander.
If all goes well, is there still time to get him ready for the start of the season?
“We’ll see,” Martinez said. “A lot is going to determine how he comes out of this tomorrow, and how he feels.
“Obviously, if something tightens up on him we’ll shut him down right away. But like I said, hopefully that won’t happen and he can up to about 50-55 pitches.”
Kyle Schwarber and hitting coach Kevin Long talked early this spring about the work they did to revamp his stance, but so far in Grapefruit League action, the former Cubs’ slugger has struggled at the plate.
Schwarber was just 3 for 21 before he homered and went 1 for 3 in Thursday’s game.
Martinez talked before Schwarber (who signed a 1-year/$10M deal this winter) hit his second blast of the spring about being okay with what he’s seen from the left field so far.
“He’s looking good, I mean, he really is,” the manager said.
“The other day he played in the game and he hit missile to right field. But the key is for him is to get the ball in the strike zone, be aggressive with balls in the strike zone, use his lower half a little better, which he’s doing, but I think he’s going to be fine. He likes where he’s at right now, we like where he’s at right now, and he’s constantly working every day.
“He takes a lot of balls, left-handed breaking balls, off the machine, which helps him stay back a little bit and helps him stay on his legs, so he’s working every single day on getting better.”
Reading Between the Lines of Some ?s:
Carter Kieboom, following an 0 for 3 day at the plate on Thursday afternoon, is now 4 for 28 this spring (.143/.200/.214), after struggling at the plate in 2020’s 60-game campaign.
That’s likely behind the line of questioning that came at the end of Martinez’s pregame Zoom call yesterday, but if it was, it was the unstated motivation behind the following exchange...
Reporter [paraphrasing] - Can Luis García play third base?
Davey Martinez: “That’s a good question. I’m sure he can. Right now I like him at second. So, that’s where he’s going to - he’s going to play second, I know he’s playing shortstop just as an emergency guy just in case something happens, hopefully not, but I mean, he’s a good athlete and he’s got great hands, so I’m sure he can play third base.”
Not practicing at 3B though?: “No.”
Has Starlin Castro taken any grounders at 3B?: “No, so far it’s just been at second. So far it’s just been at second.” [laughs]
So there’s a chance?: “Maybe.” [laughs]