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Wire Taps: Washington Nationals get three back off COVID IL; Nats snap five-game losing streak + more...

Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news while you wait to see what Stephen Strasburg does tonight in St. Louis.

MLB: Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Davey Martinez said he still wants to get Jon Lester back before he feels like the Nationals’ COVID-19 outbreak is officially behind them, but the club did get three more players back off of the IL last night, with Josh Bell, Josh Harrison, and Kyle Schwarber returning to their lineup for the first game of their series with the St. Louis Cardinals.

“Everybody thus far is cleared,” Martinez said before the opener in Busch Stadium.

“The good news today, we got three more of our guys back. They’re in the lineup, they’re going to play, I know their teammates are excited about, they’re very excited about it.

“I talked to Schwarber and as you know, he was biting at the bit, watching all the games, and he came in the first thing he said, he said ‘These guys played super-hard man, I’m excited to come back and try to help us win games, but watching the games, the guys were in every game, and that’s awesome.’ He’s excited to be back, so are those other two.”

In the first game with their expected everyday lineup together, the Nationals snapped a five-game losing streak with a 5-2 win. Go read your links...

NATS BEAT:

Newly activated regulars deliver late to end skid (updated) - (MASN)
"Combining to reach base six times, while scoring two runs and driving in another in eight plate appearances from the sixth inning on, Bell, Schwarber and Harrison helped lead the way..."

Nationals click with new lineup against Cardinals - (MLB.com)
"With a difficult first week behind them and three key players back in the lineup for the first time this season, manager Dave Martinez’s squad finally looked like itself again."

Nationals, finally becoming whole, end their skid with 5-2 win over Cardinals - (WaPost)
“Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber spent most of the past two weeks in isolation, wishing they were anywhere but stuck inside without a ball to hit or catch.”

Max Scherzer's secret to longevity: an eagerness to evolve - (Washington Times)
"In the middle innings of Scherzer’s second start this season, the Washington Nationals' ace displayed his versatile pitch arsenal, the type of selection that keeps hitters guessing and whiffing.

Kyle Schwarzer, Josh Bell, Josh Harrison reinstated from injured list by Nationals - (Washington Times)
"Kyle Schwarber, Josh Bell and Josh Harrison were reinstated from the injured list Monday by the Washington Nationals, making the team's roster nearly whole again after a coronavirus outbreak sidelined nine players and caused postponement of four games."

Most Nationals got vaccine in St. Louis, Dave Martinez says - (WaPost)
“Most of the Washington Nationals were vaccinated at their team hotel in St. Louis on Monday, Manager Dave Martinez told reporters.”

For the Nationals, Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber can’t debut soon enough - (WaPost)
“The Washington Nationals don’t often make excuses in public. Baseball teams can be stubborn like that.”

Nationals reinstate Josh Bell, Josh Harrison, Kyle Schwarber from injured list - (NBC Sports Washington)
"The Nationals currently sit last in the NL East thanks to their 1-5 record. But for the first time in 2021, Washington finally has a fully healthy roster."

All Nats personnel cleared, most were vaccinated today - (MASN)
"Josh Bell tried to hit miniature Wiffle balls coming at him in all sorts of directions from a pitching machine. Kyle Schwarber used a virtual reality mask to take swings against simulated pitches only he could see."

Bell, Schwarber and Harrison activated, Lucroy designated - (MASN)
"Bell, Schwarber and Harrison were cleared to return today after completing their league- and city-mandated protocols."

NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

M.L.B. Encourages Players to Get Coronavirus Vaccine - (The New York Times)
“‘I’m ready to get back to normal,’ pitcher Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals told reporters as his team was dealing with a virus outbreak that broke a streak of six weeks of largely virus-free baseball for major league teams.”

NL EAST UPDATES:

Phillies centerfielders: Scott Kingery not ready to return yet - (NBC Sports Philadelphia)
"Though the Phillies are getting minuscule production from the center field position, they aren't ready to bring back Scott Kingery yet."

Phillies' revamped bullpen making all the difference - (NY Post)
"If the Phillies’ 2020 bullpen had just been bad, the team would have made the playoffs last year; maybe even won the NL East."

Lack of games due to rain, COVID has role in Mets' slow start - (NY Post)
"The Mets left Port St. Lucie with full steam ahead and even got a last-minute boost from Francisco Lindor’s contract extension on the eve of Opening Day. They have spent seven of the next 12 days not playing baseball."

When Jazz Chisholm Faced Jacob deGrom - (Fangraphs)
"In the batter’s box is Jazz Chisholm, one of Miami’s many promising young players."

Ronald Acuña Jr. triples, scores on sac fly to second - (MLB.com)
"While there might still be some debate about who is baseball’s best player, Ronald Acuña Jr. has clearly established himself as the game’s most exciting player through the first couple weeks of this season."