Hola amigas y amigos! We are back with 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 Nats, and make use of stuff that we transcribed and we don’t plan to use in a full story, without boring you with all of that annoying context-y stuff, and that pesky stat-based analysis...
[ed. note - “We really hoped in the day or two you took off from these posts that you would rethink these intros. But nope. And seriously, what’s wrong with context and analysis again?”]
But really, we usually do end up including some context and stuff, and some stats too, sorry.
[ed. note - “Then why did you just say the complete opposite? What is this, a joke? It helps if people know what the joke is so they don’t feel like it’s an in-joke five people get! Seriously. Though that is kind of your thing still. Unbelievably. See: #TKCHZ.”]
Let’s all see what’s up in NatsTown South aka West Palm Beach, FL...
[ed. note - “Let’s... forget it. We’re now beyond annoyed and we’re seriously considering sending a note to the management of this so-called ‘site.’ We’re outraged.”]
Here’s the latest news from Martinez (and maybe a few other Nationals)...
Zim on Bell on Soto + Soto on Bell + That’s it actually:
Josh Bell talked earlier this month about watching Juan Soto work this spring, especially in batting practice, and learning from the 22-year-old slugger (who won the NL batting title in 2020).
Bell, 28, had no qualms about admitting that he’s willing to take things from any and every source he can if he thinks it will help improve his game.
Bell’s not alone in that willingness to take what he can from any source if it will help him.
“I’m the kind of guy that can learn from a kid, can learn from an old man, I don’t mind,” Soto said in a Zoom call with reporters on Friday.
“I just look at it that way, because I like to learn a lot of new things every day.”
Even [gasps] 36-year-old first baseman Ryan Zimmerman takes what he can from wherever he can as he keeps learning as he heads into his 16th season in the majors.
What has Zimmerman picked up from Soto? Or what impresses him most?
“I think — his ability to know the strike zone at such a young age I think is — I don’t know if this is really answering your question, but that I think is most impressive about him so far is just his ability to swing at strikes,” Zimmerman said in his own Zoom call on Friday.
“I think that is the hardest thing to do in baseball, is to control the strike zone, because the pitcher obviously — half of the battle with them is they throw pitches that look like strikes for a long time, and then end up not being strikes, and that’s kind of the —that’s the hardest battle between you and the pitcher, is making sure you get them in the zone and keeping them on the plate, so watching him kind of do that, that’s what I would say about Juan.”
Starlin Castro’s Hamstring Won’t Hamstring Club:
Starlin Castro, who was limited to just 16 games (over which he had a .267/.302/.450 line) in the first year of his 2-year/$12M deal with the Nationals by a broken right wrist that required surgery, tweaked his hamstring earlier this week, and was removed from his 12th game this spring (after putting up a .303/.343/.515 line in those 12 games).
What’s he been doing since leaving that game back on March 23rd?
“He’s been working, honestly, today is going to be the first day he’s going to jog a little bit and we’ll see how he does today, but he’s been doing everything else,” Martinez said.
“I talked to him today, he feels good, he’s positive, so hopefully it won’t be long before we can get him back on the field. But once again, we’re so close to the end of Spring Training, I want to get him healthy. I mean, he was swinging the bat well, he was playing well, he’s got tons of at bats, so I just want to make sure that he’s 100% healthy before he goes back out there.”
Is he comfortable with the possibility of just waiting for Opening Day (4/1) with Castro if that is what it comes to?
“You know, it’s based on my conversations with him. I know what to expect from him. But I told him that I’m not opposed to — if he’s not ready and he feels like he needs extra days, that we wait as long as we can to get him back on the field. Which could be Opening Day. But he’s biting at the bit to play right now. He loves playing.
“And I just want to make sure and I tell him every day, ‘Hey, make sure you’re 100%. We’ve still got time. Just be ready, just hopefully you’re ready by Opening Day.”
Soto vs Sixto - A Difference Maker:
Juan Soto tweaked something in his calf while battling Marlins’ starter Sixto Sánchez in an epic, 11-pitch at bat on Thursday, which ended with a walk, and left the game shortly after the showdown, which Soto said was his best plate appearance of the spring.
“I really wanted to stay, because I took a really long at bat, and I think that at bat was something else,” Soto said.
“It made me feel almost in the season,” the 22-year-old slugger added.
“It made me feel ready to go. I really wanted to stay ... but they just want to cover me, and save me for the season, and they just want me to get as much rest as I can to get ready for Opening Day.”
Is that the kind of plate appearance that could jump start Soto, who’s been tracking pitches and working on things this spring, while putting up a .182/.289/.182 line in 13 games.
“Absolutely,” Martinez said.
“I heard him even when we took him out of the game yesterday, he was talking about it and he said that was his best at bat of the spring, so that’s encouraging, that’s a good sign.
“Hopefully he comes back — he figured some stuff out, it was a timing thing, it was getting his foot down on time, and he felt really good [about] that at bat, so hopefully that just opens the doors for him to be the Soto that he knows and he starts hitting the ball the way he’s capable of hitting.”