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Washington Nationals News & Notes: Davey Martinez talks Jackie Robinson; lineup stuff + more...

Random notes and quotes from Davey Martinez’s daily press availability.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

April 15th - Jackie Robinson Day:

Davey Martinez and the rest of the Washington Nationals, as well as everyone around MLB, wore the No. 42 last night, to celebrate the day Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier by becoming the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball on April 15, 1947.

Martinez shared his thoughts on what the day means to him when he spoke with reporters on a Zoom call before last night’s game.

“Jackie is not here but never forgotten, as you know in this game,” Martinez said. “He broke barriers, and in this world we live in today we got to remember that it’s a struggle. And we’ve got to keep pulling forward, keep going forward, and he’s the one that represents that for most of us if not all of us.”

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Martinez was asked if he talked to his players about how the then-28-year-old Robinson changed the course of history.

“They all understand. They understand what he meant to this game and what he brought to this game. So, they talked amongst themselves,” Martinez said.

“We know what he meant to not only this game, but for humanity. So I’ll never forget the man, his family, and what he’s done, like I said, not only for players, but this country.”

10,000+ Allowed in Nationals Park:

Washington’s Nationals opened the 2021 campaign with 5,000 fans in the park for the first series of the season, but they got word while on the road that they’d be able to open up to 25% capacity for the second homestand, which Martinez said had everyone excited.

“We had 5,000 loud fans Opening Day, now we’re going to have over 10,000 even louder fans, so we’re excited about that,” Martinez said.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

“I’m really glad that things are starting to open up a little bit and we’re getting more fans in, and it’s awesome. Like we’ve talked before, we have some sense of normalcy, and that’s good for not only myself but for the players as well to go out there and see fans cheering for them.”

“We’re very excited about playing in front of more of our fans,” he added at another point.

“But with that being said, we still — there’s still some side of caution — we got to still follow protocol and still be smart about what’s going on today, but I am elated and looking forward to seeing all the Nats fans tonight. It’s going to be great.”

There was an announced crowd of 6,666 for the first of four with Arizona’s Diamondbacks.

Lucroy Tries His Luck In FA:

Jonathan Lucroy signed with the Nationals after both Yan Gomes and Alex Avila ended up on the COVID-IL at the start of the season, and performed admirably for the short time he was on the roster, but he was DFA’d shortly after both catchers came off the IL and he has opted for free agency after clearing waivers.

“He cleared waivers and he opted to be a free agent,” Martinez confirmed.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

“He wants to take a look around,” he added. “I talked to him and there’s a possibility that — he mentioned something about playing in the Olympics. So he might want to go do that, but the door is always open. If he wants to come back, I had a conversation with [GM] Mike [Rizzo] about him, and we actually told him, ‘Hey, we’d love to have you back. I hope for your future that you do get a big league job, but if not we’d love to have you back here.’ Because you never know what’s going to happen here, especially in that position.”

Two More To Be Fully Back:

Following the win in the finale in St. Louis, which gave Washington 2 of 3 for their first series win of the season, Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez talked about getting all of the Nats’ position players back off the COVID-IL and what it meant to the club’s success in the three-game set with the Cardinals, but he also acknowledged that the roster is still not 100% back to where he expected it to be after leaving Spring Training.

“We got our boys back we’re missing,” he said. “I would say one, but we’re really missing two [Jon Lester and Will Harris]. Hopefully we’ll get Will Harris back sooner than later as well.”

Lester had surgery to remove one of four parathyroid glands during Spring Training, then ended up on the COVID-IL, but he’s building back up now.

Harris’s health scare, as yet undiagnosed, after it was initially thought to be a blood clot, is a bit murkier as Martinez said in St. Louis. He felt tingling and numbness in his hand, and as of now, it’s still unclear what caused it.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

“Everybody deemed him so far fine,” though, Martinez said earlier this week.

“So he said it’s something that he’s going to pitch through and he totally feels fine, so it’s weird. Just a weird situation.”

So what, if any, updates did he have on Lester and Harris on Thursday afternoon?

“Jon Lester is going to pitch in a sim game today,” Martinez said. “We’ll know more at the end of the game. And then Will Harris threw a light bullpen yesterday, threw about 20 pitches, and everything went well, so we’ll see how he feels today and go from there.”

Is there something they need to see from Harris before he returns to the majors?

“Not really,” Martinez explained.

“For him it’s just his intensity. Like when I say he threw a light bullpen, it’s more controlled, 70-75%, and then we’ll go from there. The good news is that he felt good, I talked to him today, he said he felt fine. He’ll throw another one, he’s off today, he’ll throw another one tomorrow.”