Opening Day Lineup In #TBSOTL:
Davey Martinez didn’t have the Opening Day roster he thought he would have before the club’s COVID crisis landed the likes of catcher Alex Avila, first baseman Josh Bell, starter Patrick Corbin, catcher Yan Gomes, reliever Brad Hand, infielder Josh Harrison, starter Jon Lester, infielder Jordy Mercer, and outfielder Kyle Schwarber on the Injured List, but the Washington Nationals’ fourth-year skipper told reporters before today’s game that he was happier with the lineup he is sending out there for this afternoon’s season opener with the Atlanta Braves than he expected to be.
“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, honestly,” Martinez said.
As the manager explained it, the club had some really tough decisions to make when they initially set the roster at the end of Spring Training, so having to fill in for some of the guys who were expected to start the season in D.C. wasn’t too jarring.
“You got to remember, a lot of these guys had a pretty good Spring Training,” Martinez said.
“We’re at the start of the season, so based on some of that and based on who we’re facing today and what we’re trying to do, I think our lineup sets up pretty well.
“[Victor] Robles, we talked about him leading off against left-handed pitching. Facing a lefty today, Trea [Turner], [Juan] Soto, [Ryan Zimmerman], who obviously had an unbelievable spring. [Starlin] Castro, who’s healthy, you got Hernán Pérez, who had a pretty good spring, who handles lefties well, he’s in the lineup today.
“[Andrew] Stevenson is going to play left field for us, who also had a good Spring Training.
“So I think overall we’re in good shape.”
So, Trea Will Play?:
Davey Martinez chose his words carefully when he spoke to reporters on Monday, after his club worked out in Nationals Park in advance of today’s season opener.
Reporters, having watched the available players work out in the team’s home park, noticed who was and wasn’t on the field and made some assumptions about what that meant for a few whose availability for Opening Day was a question mark.
Reporter - [paraphrasing] Anyone not on the field but available?:
Martinez: “I cannot tell you that.”
Did everyone in park today work out?:
Martinez: “The guys that were here. All the guys worked out today.”
Did, they work out on the field?:
Martinez: “Some were inside, but yeah.”
Trea Turner, the Nationals’ starting shortstop and No. 2 hitter in the OD lineup, was not on the field yesterday, but “some were inside,” so, yeah, he’s available.
So, why didn’t Turner work out on the field on Monday?
“Like I said yesterday,” Martinez explained, “... just because they weren’t on the field, didn’t mean that they [weren’t] here. He’s in the Opening Day lineup. We’re excited about it.
“I think we put out a pretty good lineup today, so we’re all excited. Opening Day is here upon us and we’re ready to play baseball.”
But, why wasn’t Turner on the field yesterday for the team’s full squad workout?
“He was just not — wasn’t available. We had to complete spit tests. As he spit negative every test, so you know, we just couldn’t get him out there yesterday, but he’s available to go today.”
Lucroy, Not La Kwah or La Krah:
Davey Martinez suggested on Monday that it would be recently-signed veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy behind the plate catching Opening Day starter Max Scherzer, and not someone like Yan Gomes or Alex Avila (neither of whom were on the field yesterday, and both of whom are now on the IL), or the catchers who were spotted in Nationals Park on Monday like Tres Barrera (who did end up on the OD roster) or Raudy Read (who was in D.C. but is not on the the OD roster).
So why did they ultimately decide they would go with Lucroy?
“We talked to him. He’s had conversations with Max, he’s had conversations with [Pitching coach Jim] Hickey.
“Like I said yesterday, he’s a veteran guy that’s caught a lot of pretty good pitchers over the years, so I feel like he can handle Max very well.”
No Hand, No Harris, No Closer?:
Brad Hand is on the IL sans explication. Will Harris, who has had some health concerns this spring, is starting the season on the IL as well, with what a press release on the Nationals’ Opening Day roster described as “right hand inflammation”. So, what’s up with Harris, and who’s the closer?
“Will, he’s got cleared to start throwing,” Martinez said. “So, he’s going to start throwing here shortly.
“We got to get him back on the mound, he’s basically got to go through a Spring Training ritual and as soon as we can get him ready he’ll be back with us.”
And who’s going to close games at the start here?
“Our bullpen is set up to where we still have [Daniel Hudson], we talked about [Tanner] Rainey pitching at the back end of the bullpen. [Wander] Suero threw the ball well. [Kyle] Finnegan.
“And we got some crafty lefties I believe can get some big outs for us as well, so I think we’re in good shape in our bullpen, I really do, we’ll definitely miss those guys, but I think with the guys we have, we can cover.”
Enjoy your Opening Day!