Davey Martinez talked earlier this week about how he’d line things up while the Nationals are in New York, playing under AL rules for the three-game weekend set. So with the DH, would we see Josh Bell and Ryan Zimmerman in the lineup? Will Juan Soto, who returned from the IL, but, as of Thursday, was not yet ready to throw in game action, be in the DH spot all weekend?
“I know when we go to New York they’ve got three righties pitching against us. But we’ll see,” Martinez said.
“I can tell you, if, for some reason, Soto says he feels a lot better, it would be nice to get him in right field, because then you could actually play Bell and Zim in a couple of those games.
“But we’ll have to see how Soto feels.”
Before Thursday’s series finale with Atlanta in the nation’s capital, the fourth-year skipper also discussed the thinking behind continuing to run Bell and Kyle Schwarber out there, even though the two big offensive additions this season have struggled over the first few weeks with their new team.
Martinez said he assured both this week he has faith they’ll turn things around after both missed time on the IL during the COVID crisis at the start of the season.
Bell has .141/.222/.281 line with three doubles and two home runs in 72 plate appearances, but his manager said that he’s seen signs of life from the switch-hitting first baseman.
“It’s funny, because we got him to hit in the middle of our lineup, and I believe that he’s going to hit in the middle of our lineup, he’s going to drive in a lot of runs for us,” Martinez said.
“For them, these guys, it’s still — as much as we want to see them have success, they missed some time, it’s still kind of early for them, they don’t have 100 at bats yet, but I watched their at bats last night. Bell is starting to get the ball in the air, which is a good sign, that means his timing is getting a lot better, he’s not hitting balls into the ground as much. When you start seeing him hitting the ball in the air, now it’s just a matter of consistency, and getting the ball out in front and getting it in the air, and he’ll start hitting the balls hard like he was in Spring Training.”
Schwarber went 3 for 16 with a double and a home run in five games during the homestand that wrapped up on Thursday, leaving him at .187/.265/.333 line with five doubles and three two home runs in 83 PAs thus far.
Not exactly the production the Nationals were hoping for when they signed Schwarber and traded for Bell, but the skipper said he remains confident they’ll play a big role in any of the success the organization has this season.
“If we’re going to do this and we’re going to win the championship here, [Bell is] going to be a big part of it, on both sides of the ball. On defense, and offense,” Martinez said.
“Same thing goes with Kyle Schwarber,” he added.
“I talked to both of them today, and I told them exactly that. I said, ‘Hey, you guys are a big part of our lineup. [GM] Mike [Rizzo] and I both wanted you here. You were our targets this winter, and we believe in you guys.
“So, you’re going to get all the opportunity in the world to play every day, and we can’t do this without you. So just go out there and have fun. I believe it’s going to come, and when it does come we’re going to start having fun and we’re going to start scoring a lot of runs.
“But I got to give these guys a chance. Like I said, they missed some time. They both were peaking at the right time in Spring Training, it was fun to watch those guys, what they were doing in Spring Training, so they’ll get it back. I’m confident that they’ll get it back.”
Will they start to get it back this weekend? Will Soto get back in right in NY? Will the Nats bounce back and snap their three-game slide?