No one with the Nationals is going to use it as an excuse, but with nine expected Opening Day players unavailable at the start of the season following a COVID-19 outbreak in D.C., a different lineup was out on the field in Washington’s season-opener series with the Atlanta Braves.
Davey Martinez’s club took the series opener with the Nationals’ NL East rivals, but dropped both ends of Wednesday’s doubleheader in the nation’s capital. So how did the fourth-year skipper view the three-game set as a whole? Was it a missed opportunity since they were in each of the games, but only got one of three, or a good showing from a depleted roster?
“You look at both ways, honestly,” Martinez said. “The first game [of the doubleheader] was kind of disappointing because we scored four runs in the first, but you’re talking about a pretty good team over there. So, you got to play the whole game, and then the second game you get an unbelievable pitching performance [by Stephen Strasburg], and we couldn’t get anything going offensively.
“Hey, but I’ll tell you right now, for what these boys have been through, and what they did the last 25 hours, which we had to play three games, I’m very proud. I’m very pleased the way they went out and played. They left it all out on the field. We had a bunch of guys that were cramping up there at the end, so you know we’re going to get that day off tomorrow, and go get’em again on Friday.”
Martinez was asked before the first of two with the Braves on Wednesday about the chances that any of the nine players who started the season on the IL could return while the club is in Los Angeles over the weekend.
“It’s a possibility, it really is,” he said. “The good news is that these guys are testing negative with the nasal swab and the saliva test. They have been. So that’s encouraging for us.”
As he explained, however, that’s a bit complicated given that the four players who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and seve (which apparently includes two players from their pool at the club’s Alternate Site in Fredericksburg, VA), who were identified through contact tracing can not travel with the team.
“For us right now, they cannot travel with us because of the timeline,” Martinez said, though it is unclear what that timeline is right now, or whether the different players are on different timelines.
“So, that’s something that we’re trying to work through right now. We’re trying to figure out how we can get these guys there if they’re allowed to meet us in LA, but all this stuff is still up in the air. We sat around last night talking about all kinds of different things and as you know, we get to travel with a taxi squad with extra players too, so we had to figure all that stuff out last night as well. Hopefully this stuff works itself out.
“The biggest thing is trying to get them back as soon as possible. And like I said, being that these guys have tested negative, that that helps a little bit.”
Apparently, they sorted some of it out, because four players (Yan Gomes, Alex Avila, Brad Hand, and Jordy Mercer) were reinstated from the IL in advance of today’s game.
You can check out the rest of the roster moves they made this afternoon HERE.
Who’s going to be in the lineup for the opener with the Dodgers? Let’s see...