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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Stephen Strasburg; returning to 100% capacity Nationals Park + more...

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s daily press availability before last night’s game...

StrasDate? UpStras? UpBurg? Strasburg Update:

Stephen Strasburg missed over a month on the Injured List with inflammation in his right shoulder in April/May, returned, and went back on the IL after making just three starts, with a “neck strain” or what Davey Martinez described at the time as a bit of a nerve irritation in his neck. That was back on June 2nd.

Martinez was asked if there were any updates on Strasburg before the second of two with the Rays last night in Tropicana Field.

Is he able to throw at all? Is he shut down completely?

“He’s shut down,” Martinez said. “He’s doing probably some lower body exercises, but he’s not doing any throwing yet.”

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

How will they know when he’s okay to start throwing and testing it and building up again?

“We got to definitely evaluate him,” Martinez said. “Right now we just want to — like I said, it’s a nerve irritation. We want it to kind of go away, quiet down a little bit and we’ll go from there.

“There’s a good chance that he might go see another specialist here in the next few days, so we’ll see what happens in the next couple days.”

What would the specialist be looking for at this point?

“Actually, I couldn’t even tell you that,” Martinez said, “... it’s just another follow-up with what we’ve had before. So we just want to make sure that whatever irritation he has in that nerve that it’s continuing to get better.”

Home Sweet Full Home:

Before the final game of the Nationals’ road trip last night, Martinez was asked about going back to D.C., where their home park will be open at full capacity for the first time this year.

How excited are the manager and his players about playing in front of a full house in D.C. for the first time since October of 2019?

“We’re super-excited to see all the fans again,” Martinez said.

“Hopefully it will be a packed house tomorrow. The boys are talking about it, we’re excited. It will look like some kind of normalcy back at home.”

The club would, of course, be happier about things in general if they were doing better than they have over the first two-plus months of the season. Heading into play on Tuesday a total of nine games under .500 and 7.0 games back in 5th in the NL East is not how anyone in the front office in D.C. saw this season starting.

Washington Nationals vs. the Chicago Cubs baseball Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

At what point will we see some changes on the field if things don’t turn around quickly?

Martinez doesn’t worry about hypothetical roster moves.

“We got 26 players that I worry about every day,” Martinez said. “And I just focus on those guys here right now. I say this all the time, but if you look back, we’re just one or two hits away from really busting out and being consistently good and getting that W every day.

“We just got to keep plugging away.

“Yesterday we had opportunities, we didn’t come through, we’ve had opportunities a bunch, and we just got to get that one or two big hits.

“I looked at the game last night as I sit around like I always do, we had some good at bats, we hit the ball hard, of course we faced [Tyler] Glasnow, we had a lot of strikeouts, but we still, all in all, it was a 3-1 game and we had an opportunity to bust that game wide open with the bases loaded with some of our big hitters up, we just couldn’t get it done. So, today we’ve got another game, we’ve got a young lefty out there, throws the ball hard, he’s got a good slider, so like I always say we got to go out there and try to score first and put pressure on the other team.”

How is the club handling the disappointing start, and the adversity they’ve dealt with early this season?

“I’m with them in there, you know,” Martinez said, “encourage them, it’s all about positivity. There’s 162 games for a reason, so we got to stay positive and we’ve got to keep going.”

ROAD SOTO! [ed. note - “You already used that in yesterday’s gamer.”]:

Juan Soto started the final game of the Nationals’ nine-game road trip to Atlanta, Philly, and Tampa Bay with hits in six of eight games and he had reached base safely in all eight games on the trip, going 9 for 26 (.346 AVG) with a triple, three home runs, nine RBIs, nine walks, and seven runs scored over that stretch. Martinez was asked before the second of two with the Rays if we’re seeing Soto as his best now after he struggled upon returning from an IL stint for a left shoulder issue.

Washington Nationals v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

“I’m watching him take BP right now and he’s on every ball and hitting every ball hard,” the manager said. “When I see him take a ball middle-in and able to drive it to left-center field, that’s an indication to me that he’s starting to swing the bat really well. And he takes it into the game.

“He’s not worried about pulling balls, he’s just worried about staying inside the ball, and hitting the ball hard and staying in the middle of field.”

Is staying inside the ball something that the Nationals stressed with Soto as he worked to get his swing back following the time on the IL?

“That’s just who he is, he’s really good at that,” Martinez said. “And so we told him, ‘Hey, don’t try to chase too much. If they try to pitch you in, a lot of times those balls are in for balls, so don’t worry about them, and if they do call a strike, it’s only one pitch, and get ready to hit the next pitch, and he’s been doing really well with that.”