Wander And Stephen - Coming Soon to a Mound Near You:
Before the series finale with the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, Washington Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez updated reporters on his injured pitchers Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) and Wander Suero (left oblique strain). Both threw in a simulated game and it apparently went well for each of them.
“Strasburg threw two innings, 35 pitches, threw the ball well,” Martinez said. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow and then we’ll go from there.”
“If everything goes well he’ll probably throw another sim game some time early next week.”
“Suero was good,” Martinez added, “[Threw] 22 pitches. He threw the ball really well.
“Depending on how he feels either tomorrow or Saturday we might send him out, I think [Triple-A] Rochester is in Lehigh Valley, and might get him in a game.”
While neither pitcher will travel with the team to New York for this weekend’s three-game series in Yankee Stadium, they took another step on their way back.
“Suero is going to — we want to get him going,” Martinez explained when asked about what is next. “I think he’s a little bit closer than Stephen, so we’ll get him some games here fairly soon. And like I said, we’ll pitch him either Friday or Saturday. And then we’ll go from there.”
Though he’s a bit behind Suero, Martinez liked what he saw from Strasburg on Thursday.
“I watched him today and he threw the ball well. And he said he felt good, so now it’s just about building him up. But we’re going to take it slow, and we’re going to make sure that he’s completely ready.
“With that being said he’s going to go through his process this week and we’ll get him back out there probably I would say Monday or Tuesday for another sim game and then we’ll go from there.”
Victor Robles’s Pop-Up In Review:
Davey Martinez stuck with Victor Robles against reliever A.J. Minter with the bases loaded and two out in Wednesday night’s 5-3 loss to the Braves, even though he had a Juan Soto on the bench as a potential pinch hitter, and Robles popped up on the first pitch. He said after the game that it was a decision he’d be thinking about for a while, though Martinez didn’t want Soto playing the field since he’s still building up strength in his shoulder after a strain in his throwing arm landed him on the IL.
“It’s just one of those things where I’ll lose sleep over it of course, because [Soto] is there,” Martinez said after the second straight loss to Atlanta.
“But you know in the long run I know that we’re going to have him for the duration of the season.”
So, did he lose sleep over the decision once he got home after the loss? Or in hindsight, did he think he made the right choice in protecting Soto and showing faith in Robles, who’s had a rough start at the plate this season (after a tough 2020 campaign on the offensive end)?
“You know what, I’m glad you asked me that,” Martinez told the reporter who asked if he’d made the decision at least in part to show Robles he believed in him.
“Because we talk so much about Soto and his ability to hit. But you’re absolutely right.
“[Robles is] still a young kid and he’s our starting center fielder, so we want to build that confidence. We need Victor. If we’re going to go far, we need Victor to perform not only on offense, but on defense as well. It was a good moment for him. And I said this earlier, he took an unbelievable swing. I think it was one of the best swings he’s had all year. He just — he barreled the ball, he just hit it straight up in the air. But, it was a really good swing. And I talked to him today about it, and told him, I said, ‘If you take swings like that throughout this whole year, you’re going to do some special things for us.’ I’m just proud of the way he went about it yesterday. He was aggressive, he got a ball in the strike zone, which we talk to him a lot about and he just missed the pitch. But I say this almost every day, it’s going to take 26 guys and more to pull this off, and we need Vic. We need all these guys to do their part. And it’s part of the process with him as well.
“We feel like Victor is going to be here for a very long time and play center field. We need to get him going as well. We need him to start hitting and doing the things that we think he’s capable of doing.”
And Now, Special Guest Max Scherzer On Victor Robles:
While we’re talking Robles, let’s hear what Max Scherzer, who has been at the top of the rotation in D.C. for each of the outfielder’s five seasons in the majors so far, had to say in Thursday’s pregame press conference about the growth he’s seen from the Nationals’ center fielder.
The 36-year-old veteran in his 14th season said he’s impressed with what he’s seen so far and excited about what’s to come for the 23-year-old outfielder.
“I always have to like remind myself I didn’t make my debut until I was 23 years old,” the three-time Cy Young award-winning starter said. “Like, he’s already had three years in the league... [ed. note - “Actually five, but just 268 games over five seasons.”] and to have that — all the stuff that I used to do when I was 23 years old, yeah, as a player you continue to grow throughout your career, and you’re not really a finished product — you’re never really a finished product, but really those big-time leaps happen in kind of your fifth year in the big leagues, and your seventh year, and your tenth year, you can still have a lot of leaps forward if you go out there and choose to really put in the work to do it. So that’s the opportunity he has in front of him.”
Scherzer debuted in the majors at 23, back in 2008, but was traded by Arizona to Detroit, where he really took off in his fourth big league season in 2011, before winning a Cy Young for the first time in 2013.
“Just because you’ve been here for three years doesn’t mean anything,” Scherzer continued.
“Like, you can still go out there and get a ton better just by putting your nose down and figuring out what you’ve got to do. A lot of times the early part in your career, you’re figuring out yourself. And so I think for him, he’s just continuing to learn what he can and can’t do, and focusing on what you can’t do sometimes allows you to get yourself better so that you can do more things. And I think he’s in that process of that, but that’s for every young player. Every young player is in that grind of trying to establish themselves in the major leagues. And for him being  years old, what an experience for him to have to be on this team with the veteran leadership, and the players, and the runs we’ve been on. And that’s just a learning curve and experience he’s been able to gain at a young part in his career.”