Yadiel Hernández got the call back up from the Alternate Site in Fredericksburg, VA when Juan Soto ended up on the 10-Day IL with a left shoulder strain this past week, and Davey Martinez talked about the decision to get the 33-year-old outfielder back in the Nationals’ lineup while Soto rested up.
“He was a guy who’s swinging the bat really well,” Martinez explained. “I love the way [that] he swings the bat and he brings a lot of energy. He understands the pinch hitting role. So, and he’s going to get an opportunity — I told him, I said, ‘You’ll get an opportunity to start some games here, while you’re here, so just be ready.’”
Hernández got three pinch hit appearances, in each of the final two games with St. Louis in D.C., and one on Friday night in the series opener in New York, but Martinez penciled him in as the Nationals’ starting right fielder and their No. 2 hitter for the second game of three this weekend in Citi Field on Saturday.
The skipper said he liked what he saw in a pinch hit at bat in D.C., in which Hernández lined out sharply to left on a super-windy day in the nation’s capital, and he wanted to get him in there for a few at bats against righty Marcus Stroman.
“I want to get Yadi up there, I want to hopefully get him 3-4 at bats against Stroman. We like the left-handed hitters against Stroman,” Martinez said. “I think that they fare a little bit better, numbers-wise, so and Yadi — 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.”
Martinez went left-hand heavy in the lineup, hoping that might help their offense get going after the Nationals were shut out by Jacob deGrom in a dominant performance in the series opener.
“After looking at the numbers this week with Stroman, he’s got a really good slider, he mixes in all his pitches,” Martinez said.
“I think if we can get him in the strike zone, like I said, Yadi has been swinging the bat well.
“I like the lefties on [Stroman], so hopefully Yadi supplies a little bit more pop in that lineup today and we can score some runs early. I think we need to start scoring earlier in the games.
“We’ve been scoring runs late, we need to start scoring runs early to take little bit of pressure off our starting pitching and see where that takes us.”
Hernández came up with a runner on third in the top of the first, (after a Josh Harrison liner to right skipped by Michael Conforto, turning a single into a triple), and hit a sacrifice fly to left field to put the Nationals up, 1-0.
He hit the first of back-to-back singles that started the third, and scored on an RBI single to right by Kyle Schwarber, singled with two down in the fourth to drive in a run, (2 for 2, run & and 2 RBIs), and after grounding out the sixth, and in the eighth, was lifted for a defensive sub.
“He was seeing the ball,” Martinez said after a 7-1 win over the Mets. “I told you before, Yadi’s always hit, so he works good at bats. It was good to see him come out here and help us win a game today.”
“Same thing I saw this spring, he can hit, man,” Josh Harrison said after hitting in front of Hernández all day on Saturday.
“He did a good job, I can tell from the first inning when I was at third, that was not a bad pitch from Stroman that he hit the other way for a sac fly. Sometimes getting in the lineup, you stress trying to get so many hits, when all you have to do is have good at bats, and that’s what I’ve seen from him, having good at bats, hitting pitches he wants, and I got a chance to see it in full effect this spring, he can hit.”
“As soon as I saw Harrison hit that triple, I knew somehow, some way, I had to bring that run in,” Hernández said, via translator Octavio Martinez after the win.
“So I focused a lot and got my concentration up for that one at bat and was able to do the job.”
Finding himself hitting second in the lineup was a nice surprise for Hernández.
“In reality I wasn’t expecting it,” the outfielder said. “I was expecting to hopefully play today, but didn’t know where in the lineup I was going to hit. So when I saw that, the thing is I was planning on doing my job wherever I was, and ready to play today.”
“He had a good day,” Martinez said. “Two things that I like about Yadi, I can plop him — when he’s not playing I can plop him in and put him in the right spot to drive in some runs for us. The other thing is like I said earlier, he really improved in his outfield a lot. And that’s good. I feel comfortable and confident to put him out there in right field and have him play maybe two or three times a week right now.”