Dunedin, FL - One-Time Home Of Jaunty:
Dunedin is apparently the fifth largest city in Pinellas County, Florida, and it’s the temporary home for the Toronto Blue Jays, who played in Buffalo in 2020’s COVID campaign, and have another home away from home until they’re good to return to Toronto. So that’s where their series with the Washington Nationals is taking place this week.
Before the start of the two-game set, Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said that though it is a minor league park the Jays are hosting teams in right now, they are making the best of it.
“I’ll tell you right now they did a great job with everything, they really did,” Martinez told reporters on his pregame Zoom call on Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s roomy, it’s spacey, everything looks great, the food has been tremendous, the field looks unbelievable, so we’re excited to go out there and play the game today.”
While it is an admittedly odd setting for a major league game, Martinez acknowledged, it is still a fun change of pace for everyone involved.
“The good thing is right now the weather is great and we’re playing outdoors,” he said, “and you know, these guys understand it’s part of what’s going on and they’ve got a good set-up. Like I said, the set-up here is really, really nice. My office is big, the coaches’ room is big, and the clubhouse is really, really big, I think it’s one of the biggest ones in the league, so it’s really nice.”
Injury Updates - This Might Take A While:
These days one intrepid reporter or another will just run through the list of injured and IL’d Nationals for Davey Martinez to provide updates on, since there are currently a number of players for whom updates are needed. Up first, Nationals’ lefty Jon Lester, whose debut in D.C. is coming soon if things go as planned over the next week or so.
Lester, 37, underwent surgery to remove a parathyroid gland this spring, and ended up on the COVID-IL along with 11 other players before Opening Day, so he’s been building up his arm strength in anticipation of his pending first appearance of 2021. So how’s it going?
“Jon Lester threw six innings right at 90 pitches Sunday,” Martinez said. “He had the day off yesterday [Monday], he was going to throw a light bullpen today, and then we’re going to sit down with him and talk to him and see what the plan is for his next outing. I’m going to sit with [Pitching Coach Ji] Hickey, myself, him, and [GM Mike Rizzo] and discuss what we want to do for his next outing, whether it will be here or he’ll get another one in Fredericksburg, [Virginia], but I want to talk to him first.”
Martinez was also asked for an update on rehabbing reliever Will Harris, who’s dealing with odd swelling in his hand, which was believed to be the result of a blood cot, though that is now thought to have been a misdiagnosis. Anyway, it’s weird. [ed. note - “Like playing MLB games in Dunedin?”]
“Harris threw in the game the other day and basically the same. We got to build him up and get him ready. He felt fine. He felt okay. So we’ll just keep building him up.”
And... Stephen Strasburg, Wander Suero, and Juan Soto, who are dealing with some right shoulder inflammation, a left oblique strain, and left shoulder strain, respectively?
“Strasburg threw out at 150 [feet],” Martinez said.
“Everything went well. So we’ll continue to build him up, continue to get stronger, and we’ll go from there.
“Hopefully — we’re hoping that he continues to build strength and we can get him on the mound here real soon.”
As for Suero? “He started his throwing program yesterday, felt good. He threw a little bit today on a lighter side. We’ll continue his throwing program tomorrow and then we’ll go from there.
“He’s another guy that we’re hoping maybe this week some time we can get him off a mound and throw a bullpen.”
And finally, Soto, whose presence in the lineup has been sorely missed since he was shut down last week.
“Soto took batting practice over in Fredericksburg. He didn’t throw yet. Still a little tender with throwing, so we’re going to keep building up his strength in that portion of it, but the hitting went fine. As soon as we can get him throwing we’ll probably have to plop him in a game or two down in Fredericksburg to make sure he’s okay. But he said he hit, he didn’t feel anything, so that’s a good sign.”
Hot Take Artist, Davey Martinez:
Was Fernando Tatís, Jr. peeking at pitches? It appeared he was at the very least checking out the catcher’s positioning in the Padres and Dodgers’ matchup this past weekend and he’s been called out for it by the starter on the mound, Trevor Bauer (who gave up a HR in the at bat):
So, Davey? Any, like, you know, uh, like, thoughts, or, uh opinions on peeking at the plate?
“As a hitter, you’re always trying to find an advantage when you’re hitting,” the former major league outfielder said.
“You know it’s been going on forever, and there’s been guys that have done it and have gotten away with it.
“There’s guys out there that are real sneaky about it and can do it fairly well. If they can get away with it, they want to know what pitches are coming.
“It’s frowned upon for a pitcher, but there’s a lot of things frowned upon here in this league, so unfortunately it seems like he got caught, and they’re going to talk about it.”
He said some other stuff too, but that’s enough for today. Don’t want to jump the hot-take shark in one day...