Since it’s an off day for the Washington Nationals today, we thought we’d gather up some quotes from manager Davey Martinez with context so you can get caught up on stuff that didn’t make it into articles this week and to get you through your Sunday...
We didn’t see Tim Cate, the Nationals’ 23-year-old, 2018 2nd Round pick, on prospect day when Jackson Rutledge (1st Round, 2019), Cade Cavalli (1st Round 2020), Cole Henry (2nd Round 2020), Matt Cronin (4th Round 2019) and more pitched against the Mets earlier this week, so Martinez was asked if there is anything going on with the left-hander.
“He’s got a little arm soreness,” the manger said, “so he’s one of those guys where he’s very young, and we’re going to take care of him and make sure he’s right before he gets back on the mound.”
Asked if he’s currently throwing at all, Martinez said, “No, he’s doing a lot of strengthening and just little progression stuff.”
Luis García on SS Depth Chart:
Luis García filled in at second when Starlin Castro was injured last season, but the 20-year-old infielder was signed as a shortstop and he has played the majority of his games there in the in the minors since he signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2016.
With Castro back and healthy for 2021, García’s likely to start the season in the minors. He got a start at short on Saturday, and Martinez said that they want him to get work at short just in case he’s needed there.
“He was a guy that we transitioned over to second base. We just want to get him back over there. He’s a guy that we look for if something happens with Trea [Turner], that he can possibly play over there in a small stint. So just to go out there and just be athletic and relax and do it.
“He’s done it before, so just want to get him back over there and get him comfortable with that position.”
You might have noticed that Max Scherzer is squinting in the main photo above, which we will repost below here, but as the Nationals’ manager explained on Saturday, it was a result of serious sun in everyone’s faces when they took their pics this year in West Palm Beach.
“It was early. The sun was out and bright. I don’t know why they don’t let us take our photos in the afternoon, when you’re awake a little bit,” Martinez said. “I hope I didn’t look like that.”
Robles’s Two-Strike Approach?:
Nationals’ outfielder Victor Robles is hard at work on making improvements at the plate after a down-year in 2020, and hitting coach Kevin Long told reporters earlier in Spring Training that his two-strike approach in particular is something that needed work.
“Victor has made some big changes,” Long explained. “We sent him out with a plan when the season ended to kind of spread out to get into his legs again, to start using his lower half the way he’s capable of using it.
“We also have a two-strike approach with him now. If you look at his numbers with two strikes, they weren’t very good.”
We did. They weren’t.
In 105 plate appearances with two strikes last season, Robles put up a .134/.190/.186 with 53 Ks in at bats that got to two-strike counts.
Martinez talked on Saturday about the progress the 23-year-old center fielder has made.
He’s 1 for 8 with three walks early in Grapefruit League action, after going 0 for 2 with a walk and a run scored on Saturday, and Robles has three stolen bases overall.
His manager’s thoughts on Robles’s approach at the plate?
“I like it. It looks like he’s a little bit more patient. He’s not jumping at the ball. He’s going to continue to do that. K-Long has worked with him about getting a little wider, getting a little bit more in his legs. So far he looks good.”
The value of the sort of wide, two-strike stance players like Juan Soto and Trea Turner have adopted and Robles is working on?
“It helps you just really focus on staying back on the ball and not lunge at the ball, and use your legs a little better,” Martinez said.
Andrew Stevenson’s September run last season opened some eyes that hadn’t already seen the talent the 26-year-old, 2015 2nd Round pick possesses, but his manager has been high on the outfielder for a while now and his .366/.464/.620 line in 45 games and 84 total plate appearances over the last two seasons has him in the mix for the fourth outfield spot on the major league roster this spring.
What is the message Stevenson’s manager has been delivering as the outfielder fights for a spot on the Opening Day roster?
“He gets it,” Martinez said. “He understands what he’s vying for and he does well. We know the value that he brings.
“Like I said to all these guys, unfortunately we can only take 26 guys to start the season. But that doesn’t mean much. Who knows, in two weeks’ time something else can change. In a month’s time something else can change, but he’s here because we value what he can do.
“I know he can help us win games.”
After a 2 for 3 day at the plate for Stevenson on Saturday, Martinez talked again about the work that the Louisiana native has done, and whether the confidence everyone saw in the final weeks of 2020 has carried over.
“I think last year he built some confidence,” Martinez said. “Coming into this year he looks relaxed playing the game. He’s playing the game right. We saw him lay down a nice bunt against a lefty there which I like and I encourage for him to do. But he’s swinging the bat well. And we know what he can do. We know what he can do against right-handed pitchers. He makes good at bats every time he’s up there, so like I said, I just want these guys to continue to get their at bats, hone in on the strike zone, and he’s doing a great job with that.”