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Washington Nationals News & Notes: Davey Martinez talks Luis Avilán; Joe Ross; Jon Lester and more...

Some leftover notes and quotes from Davey Martinez’s press availability...

Avilán Opts for Tommy John:

Davey Martinez announced on Saturday that Luis Avilán, who’d gone on the 10-Day IL with inflammation in his elbow on Friday, was diagnosed with a torn UCL and was weighing his options before deciding if he would have Tommy John surgery.

On Monday, Martinez said the 31-year-old reliever, who signed a minor-league contract with salary of $950K in majors this winter, made his decision.

“I talked to him today and he’s going to have surgery, so they’re going to schedule that,” the manager said.

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

“Decided to have the surgery. Like I said, I wish him all the best. I know he’s going to go through the process, it’s going to be months, but hopefully he can get back and pitch again.”

How is the 10-year veteran handling the situation, knowing that surgery and a long rehab process lie ahead?

“He seemed upbeat about it,” Martinez said. “He knows what he’s up against. But he’s going to do everything he can. He said he wants to come back and pitch again, and good for him, so hopefully the surgery goes well for him.”

Ross Returns To D.C.; First Time Since Game 5 in 2019 WORLD SERIES:

We know now that Joe Ross’s start last night against the St. Louis Cardinals did not go well, after an impressive start to the season for the 27-year-old righty, but his manager talked to reporters before the game about the sinker-balling starter returning to the mound in D.C. for the first time since he made an emergency start in Game 5 of the 2019 World Series.

Max Scherzer was scheduled to start that game, but was a late scratch with a nerve issue in his neck, so Ross got the call and performed admirably, giving up five hits and four runs in a five-inning start in the 7-1 loss to the Houston Astros.

World Series - Houston Astros v Washington Nationals - Game Five Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

“It’s funny that you say that because I thought about that this morning,” Martinez said when a reporter noted it was Ross’s first start at home since that October night in 2019.

“Last time he pitched at home was the game where Scherzer had the neck issue. And he stepped up. I thought he did well, and I thought he showed signs of maturity.

“Because, as you know, it was a really big fiasco that day, and he took the ball, went out there and he pitched well.

“So, with that being said, I know he’s looking forward to pitching at home today, so let’s hope that he continues doing what he’s been doing, but he’s been really, really, really good.

“I mean, his work has been good, his routine has been unbelievable. So he’s in a good place.”

He’s in less of a good place coming out of the start, but off to a strong start overall this year.

4-Man Rotation A Possibility?:

MASN’s Mark Zuckerman noted this past weekend, as the Nationals placed starter Stephen Strasburg on the IL with inflammation in his right shoulder, that with the off days coming in the near future, (four days in the next three weeks), “... they don’t really need a [fifth] starter again until May 8. Even if there’s a problem with [Patrick] Corbin, [Jon] Lester could take over that spot and they’d be OK short-term.”

Is that something the Nationals are actually considering trying? Paolo Espino started in the series finale with the Arizona D-backs on Sunday, after Strasburg went on the IL, and after the game, Martinez suggested he’d get another start, though he qualified that he’d talk with GM Mike Rizzo before making a final decision. They’re apparently considering all the options available to them.

MLB: APR 18 Diamondbacks at Nationals Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“We got all kinds of things that we’re trying to process right now,” Martinez said. “But we’ll see where we’re at. The good news is we’ve got off days coming up, it will help our bullpen out a lot, cause they’ve been pitching a lot early, but as far as the starters come, we can go in different directions, but we’ll see how it all plays out. Like I said, we need to be very careful with some of these guys, especially Joe [Ross]. I know he’s throwing well, but we want to make sure we keep our eyes on him as well, he didn’t pitch for a whole year, so we’ll see how things progress.”

So is a four-man rotation for the next few weeks one of the things they’re considering?

“There are a lot of off days,” he said. “It could be a possibility. We could go five, and then push it back to four, I mean, we could throw a guy on the spot. We’re weighing all those things out right now.”

He also provided an update on one of the pitchers working his way back.

“We got Lester, who’s going to throw, as you know, tomorrow [Tuesday], and we talked to him and he’s going to get up to about 75-80 pitches.”

At that point, you’d think the left-hander would be close, if not ready, to make his Nationals debut as the next step in his progression.