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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on rehab assignments; Paolo Espino, and Victor Robles...

Stephen Strasburg will start for Rochester. Paolo Espino is in Arizona. Victor Robles ... I don’t have a city thing for him.


The big news out of Davey Martinez’s pregame presser from Phoenix, AZ was the somewhat surprising announcement that Stephen Strasburg will make a rehab start for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings, when the Washington Nationals’ new affiliate takes on the Buffalo Bisons in Trenton, NJ on Sunday. [ed. note - “Buffalo is Toronto’s AAA affiliate, and is playing their home games in Trenton since the Blue Jays will move to the Bison’s home in the next few weeks.”]

Strasburg will be the second Nationals’ pitcher to make a rehab appearance this season, now that clubs can do that again, after they had to throw at the Alternate Training Site in Fredericksburg, VA in 2020, when there wasn’t a minor league season because of the pandemic. Wander Suero made a trip to Allentown, PA to meet up with Red Wings this past weekend, before he returned from his IL stint for a left oblique strain.

St Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Strasburg has been on the 10-Day IL since back on April 18th (retroactive to the 15th) with a bit of right shoulder inflammation, but after solid showing in a sim game this week, and in a bullpen session, the Nationals decided he was ready to take the next step and pitch in a real game.

So, after sending two of his rehabbing pitchers down to Triple-A, what does Martinez think of being able to do that once again?

“It’s good,” the skipper said, “because they get to compete against another team, which that’s what they would do here. It’s good to see that, and it’s good to get them in a live game and do what they do.

“We’ll see how [Strasburg] comes out of it, hopefully he comes out well,” Martinez added.

“I’m not really looking for - I’m just looking for health-wise right now, that he comes out, he pitches five innings, that he comes out feeling good, no issues with his shoulder, and then we’ll go from there.”

Paolo Espino Returns:

With Patrick Corbin on Paternity List after he and his wife welcomed a son into the world, the Nationals recalled right-hander Paolo Espino ahead of the series opener in Arizona.

That’s two babies this month for the Nationals, who had Max Scherzer toss a shutout earlier this month before racing to the hospital for the birth of his third child.

“I always say it must have been a pandemic thing,” Davey Martinez joked when asked about another addition to the club’s extended family.

Will Corbin return in time to take his next scheduled turn in the rotation?

“We’ll see how it goes,” Martinez said, “but we’re going to keep on schedule. I’ll talk to him probably tomorrow to see where he’s at. We got to make sure that he can throw a bullpen, that’s the biggest thing. If he can get a bullpen in then he’ll be good to go on his next start.”

Espino, 34, has a 1.64 ERA, a 4.65 FIP, a walk, and six Ks in six games, one start, and 11 IP so far in 2021, and he’ll get some more time on the big league roster while Corbin in out. Why was he the choice?

“He’s done well,” Martinez said. “He’s really done well, and he’s a guy that can give us length in that bullpen, and also too if Corbin can’t make that next start Espino would probably be the guy.”

Victor Robles - Second Leadoff Man:

Victor Robles leading off was one of the big topics of discussion this spring in West Palm Beach, and he started the season at the top of the order for the first eight games, but he didn’t last long as the leadoff man. Over the last 25 games, he’s led off just twice. He’s hit eighth and ninth in the order for the most part, but will we see him lead off again at some point in the future?

“There’s definitely a chance,” Martinez said after penciling Robles in as the No. 9 hitter in the lineup for last night’s game.

“We still toss it around a lot, about maybe against a left-handed pitcher letting him lead off, but the other thing too, batting ninth, it’s almost like a second leadoff spot for me, because like I said, he gets to flip the lineup to the top of the order, and if he can get on base it would be great.”

Has he discussed the decision-making on where Robles hits with the outfielder?

Washington Nationals v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

“Yeah, he understands what’s going on,” the manager said.

“And he’s one of those guys where he just wants to help the team win. He doesn’t care where he hits, he just wants to do well and help the team win.”

With some AL games mixed in, Robles has moved between 8th and 9th, though he’s hit in both playing under NL rules as well.

How does the manager decide where he’s going to hit Robles and the pitcher day-to-day when he makes out his lineups?

“Just looking at it, for example, it’s almost the same as yesterday, and once again, I’d like to see if Robles can get on base for the top of the order, with Trea [Turner] leading off. That’s the biggest thing for me.

“We get some guys on for the top of the order from the bottom, that would be great.”