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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez shakes up Nats’ lineup; talks Kyle Schwarber’s swing + more...

Davey Martinez talked to reporters before yesterday’s game about mixing things up with his lineup and trying to get Kyle Schwarber to shoot for center and left-center field.

Yadiel Hernández Gets A Shot:

Davey Martinez went left-hand heavy with Saturday’s lineup trying to get an advantage with Mets’ right-hander Marcus Stroman on the mound. Stroman, 29, started the day with a 0.90 ERA in 20 IP this season, over which left-handed hitters had a combined 152/.243/.242 line so far in 2021, versus a .147/.147/.176 for right-handed hitters. In his career, Stroman’s line vs lefties (.260/.319/.384) was slightly worse as well (.258/.305/.381 for RHB).

“We like the left-handed hitters against Stroman,” Martinez explained. “I think that they fare a little bit better, numbers-wise, so and [Yadiel Hernández] (who was hitting second in the lineup and playing right field) — the other day he hit the ball at 106 MPH, 28°, so any other day but that day it would have been a home run. He’s swinging the bat well, he’s been swinging the bat well at the Alternate Site, so just wanted to get him out there and get him some at bats.”

Washington Nationals v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Josh Harrison, 33, started the day 12 for 35 (.343/.425/.486) early this season, with a home run and two doubles in 10 games, and Martinez put him in the leadoff spot for the second game of three with the Nationals’ NL East rivals in Citi Field.

“He’s swinging the bat well, so we pushed him up in the lineup,” Martinez said, “and he’s a guy who puts the ball in play. So hopefully we get him in the leadoff spot, he gets on for Yadi and those big guys behind him. I want to get Yadi up there, I want to hopefully get him 3-4 at bats against Stroman.”

Harrison lined a single to right in his first at bat, and took third when it skipped by Michael Conforto in right, setting Hernández up with an RBI opportunity he cashed in with a sac fly to left field for a 1-0 lead early.

Martinez also talked about what he’s seen from a more-comfortable Hernández this year, after the 33-year-old outfielder debuted in the majors at 32 last season.

With Juan Soto on the 10-Day IL with a left shoulder strain, Hernández was called back up from the club’s Alternate Site in Fredericksburg this week.

“I really believe that he’s comfortable now,” Martinez said. “He feels like he belongs up here. He’s always ready to hit. That’s one thing I’ll tell you.

“And I also like the fact that he’s running a lot better. He’s playing outfield a lot better. He’s working really hard in the outfield, so I want to give him an opportunity to go out there and play as well.”

Walk-off Has Schwarber Thinking Pull?:

Davey Martinez routinely preaches hitting the ball back up the middle of the field. But what happens when a player absolutely crushes a homer to right or left field and gets sorta pull-happy?

The Nationals’ skipper was asked if there’s some of that going on right now with left fielder Kyle Schwarber, who hit a 463-foot walk-off home run earlier this week in Washington, D.C., but came into Saturday’s game in an 0 for 13 stretch.

“Yeah, it tends to happen to him a lot,” Martinez said. He, of course, knows Schwarber well from the time the two spent together in Chicago, when the current Nats’ manager was the bench coach for the Cubs, and Schwarber was still playing for the Cubbies, who’d drafted him in the 1st Round in 2014.

“When he’s really good he stays in the middle of the field. He’s got tremendous power to left, left-center field,” Martinez said.

MLB: Washington Nationals at New York Mets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

“Yesterday, he had a great BP where he didn’t pull any balls. Everything was hit to left-center field field or center field.

“So hopefully he continues to work on that and he’ll start driving the balls the other way.”

Isn’t it normal, or understandable, at least, to start thinking pull when you crush a pitch like Schwarber did on the home run?

“He’s been around for some time now, so he understands that he really needs to work towards the middle of the field and if the ball happens to be in, he’s so quick inside — he had one at bat, one pitch where [Génesis] Cabrera, the lefty for St. Louis, threw him a 96 MPH fastball, and he hit it over our dugout, but over the stadium, I don’t know if you guys remember that, but that goes to show you how quick his hands are.

“So, we got to get him to understand that he’s really good when he — not tries to do too much, but stays in the middle of the field.”

Don’t Ask The Man About deGrom Again:

After Jacob deGrom’s complete game shutout, in which he recorded 15 Ks and retired the final 19 batters he faced, Martinez said the performance was, “one of the better ones,” he’s seen in his long career in the game.

MLB: Washington Nationals at New York Mets Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

While he and the Nationals would probably like to put that one behind them, a reporter did ask on Saturday if he’d thought any more about deGrom’s outing after the game.

“I sat around last night after the game and talked a lot about it,” Martinez said. “I mean, the guy threw [109] pitches, and the last inning he’s throwing close to 100 MPH. So I mean, tremendous outing by Jacob, it really was. And he’s put some unbelievable outings so far this year, so he’s tough, and when he’s throwing the ball like that and locating his fastball, his changeup, and slider, it’s going to be a long day.”