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Washington Nationals’ Spring Training 2021: Notes and Quotes from Davey Martinez...

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s pregame press conference on Friday afternoon...

Dia duit, a chairde! We are once again 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 Nats, and make use of stuff 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 - “Is that an Irish intro above? And seriously, do you read our notes? The people love them some context and stats! And in D.C., people love personalities. I mean, people still probably want Mike Morse back even though he retired. But, you know, ‘Take on me! Take. On. Me. Take me on... etc.”]

But really, we usually do end up including some context and stuff, and some stats too, sorry.

[ed. note - “And once again, you contradict yourself. And once again, we say stop using that century-old Whitman quote as justification for contradictions. And you really do not contain ‘multitudes’ whatever that means.”]

Let’s all see what’s up in NatsTown South aka West Palm Beach, FL...

[ed. note - “We wrote a letter to the management of this clearly unpopular site. But sadly no one answered us. Typical. Get back to us soon!”]

Here’s the latest news from Martinez (and maybe a few other Nationals)...

What’s on second, I Don’t Know is on third...

So, after the news that Carter Kieboom was optioned to Triple-A to start the season (though he’ll actually go to Fredericksburg, VA instead of Rochester, NY while they wait for the minor league season to start), the big question was: How will Davey Martinez line up his infielders?

Starlin Castro at second, with Josh Harrison at third? Vice versa?

Martinez shared his plans on Sunday morning, though they hinge of Castro’s hamstring allowing him to return to action soon.

“When Starlin comes back he’s going to play third base, Josh will get the bulk of second base,” Martinez explained. “And then we’ll go from there. The good thing is that both of those guys can play second and third. The good news is Starlin is doing a lot better.

Washington Nationals v Houston Astros Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

“He ran a little bit yesterday, felt good. He’s going to run a little bit more today. Tomorrow he’s going to get some at bats down in a sim game, so we can control his running, and he’s going to run again. So right now we’re expecting him to be ready for Opening Day.”

Why did he decide on Castro at third and Harrison at second?

“We ran some things, we looked at some numbers,” Martinez said, “and we feel like Josh, especially with a lot of the shifting stuff, will cover a lot more ground out at second base. And I don’t want to move Starlin.

“If something happens later on in the season, I want Starlin to play third for right now and stay there.

“With that being said, I’m comfortable with both playing either second or third, right now we kind of like Starlin at third and Josh at second.”

We’re Hernán a Jordy Good Time:

Sent down to Triple-A along with Kieboom on Sunday, was infielder Luis García, who played second last season for the Nationals after Starlin Castro’s season-ending wrist injury, but the two young prospects will get some more work in the minors, and the club selected the contracts of two veterans who got minor league deals with invites to Spring Training to take the open spots on the big league roster: Hernán Pérez and Jordy Mercer.

Pérez, a 30-year-old, nine-year veteran, was 10 for 33 (.303/.314/.333) heading into Sunday afternoon’s game, and Mercer, 34, was 6 for 30 (.200/.226/.300) with a double and triple.

Why did the skipper and the Nationals’ brass opt for the veteran utility guys over the young prospects?

New York Mets v Washington Nationals Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

“They’re two both very professional players,” Martinez said. “Both can do a lot of different things. Mercer plays all over the infield. Pérez plays all over, he’s also a third catcher, he’s been an emergency catcher, he can catch. You haven’t seen him do that yet this spring, but we talked about it.

“These are two professional guys that give you professional at bats, that I can put them anywhere on defense and they’re going to play really good defense. Love having both of those guys, I mean it gives us a lot of options, it gives us some depth.

“So these guys understand the game, I think they’re going to help us in many ways.”

How does he plan on using them?

“We can put Hernán anywhere in the field and be comfortable,” Martinez said.

“Jordy, anywhere in the infield and feel comfortable. We can also use Hernán, he’s a really smart baserunner, he runs the bases well, we can use him as a pinch runner if we had to do some different things as far as pinch hitting-wise, we can do that as well, so like I said, both of these guys I feel comfortable with playing them anywhere, and I know that they’re going to get the job done.”

Make Room, Make Room!:

Luis Avilán (who’d put up a 2.08 ERA, four walks, and 10 Ks in 8 23 IP before Sunday), will be a second left-hander in the Nationals’ Opening Day bullpen, which will, apparently, feature eight relievers at the start of the season as Martinez said was a possibility earlier this spring, though not all of the final roster moves are solidified according to the manager.

“Right now we haven’t definitively done our 26-man roster,” Martinez said Sunday morning, “... but if we were going to break camp today, yeah, we’ll definitely go with an eight-man bullpen.”

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

They had to make some moves, however, to make room.

“Today, we made some moves: [Rogelio] Armenteros we optioned, Seth [Romero] we optioned. So they’re going to go to Fredericksburg. Will [Harris], we still haven’t decided what will happen with him, but I have told Avilán today that he’s on our ballclub. He’s done well. We like him. We had great conversations about him, we feel like he fits, so he’ll make our 26-man roster.”

Avilán was, of course, a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, so they needed to make room on the 40-Man roster to add him. How’d they do it?

“We DFA’d [Dakota] Bacus today,” Martinez said.