With Andrew Stevenson on the IL with an oblique strain and Yadiel Hernández optioned to Triple-A Rochester, reporters asked Washington Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez on his pregame Zoom call on Saturday if the lack of outfield depth on the big league roster was a concern.
“I think we’re covered,” Martinez said. “We have [Josh Harrison], who can play in the outfield if need be,” Jordy Mercer could fill in around the infield, Luis García was still up too and they needed pitching depth going into a doubleheader on Saturday.
Hernández took time off before reporting to Triple-A after being sent down, but Martinez did hint that after getting through the twin bill with the New York Mets, something could happen to bolster the outfield depth on the big league bench.
“[Gerardo] Parra is swinging the bat really well,” Martinez said. “I mean, I know he hit a grand slam to win the game the other day. He’s playing some center field. He’s moving around really, really well.
“So we do have options, but right now we feel like we’re in a good spot.”
When it was noted that this weekend was actually the anniversary of the first Baby Shark walk-up back in 2019, when Parra started something of a phenomenon in D.C. by co-opting that ubiquitous earworm, Martinez replied somewhat cryptically, “We’ll see what happens in the next few days or so.”
This morning the Nationals made it official:
The Washington Nationals selected the contract of outfielder Gerardo Parra on Sunday and optioned infielder Luis García to Triple-A Rochester following Saturday night’s game. Additionally, the Nationals designated left-handed pitcher Ben Braymer for assignment.
After helping spark the Nationals’ run to the World Series in 2019, Parra signed in Japan for the 2020 season before returning to the organization this winter, though he was still to rehab following right knee surgery. Martinez said today he’s fully healthy and ready to get back to contributing.
The all-important question to Parra: Will he be walking up to the same song? "I can't change. That's a good vibe for my team, even more special for the fans. I think that's more important."— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) June 20, 2021
“He was doing well,” Martinez said. “We wanted to get another outfielder up here. He’s been playing really well. He’s fully healthy. He’s running really well. Stole a couple bases..
“Swinging the bat well, just another guy, another veteran guy to use off the bench. And plop him in the outfield when we need him.
“Another thing too, in a pinch he can play first base, he’s running so good he probably could possibly in one of these situations, late innings, where he could possibly run.
“He’s just a smart baseball player, and you know the kind of energy he brings to our clubhouse, so it’s good to have him back.”
Does he plan to keep Parra in the same role as 2019, using him as a defensive sub, starter at times, and a spark on the bench and in the clubhouse?
“Yeah, I want him to come up here and be himself,” Martinez said.
I asked Parra whether he would still be giving ling hugs to Stephen Strasburg. As I asked it, Strasburg was walking by.— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) June 20, 2021
“I hope not,” he said with a smile.
“And when I say that, everybody knows how much energy he brings, to the clubhouse, on the field, and like I said, he’s a good all-around player. He’s a very smart player, and we feel like he’s ready.
“He worked really hard to get his knee ready and get in shape and he’s back. Like I said, I talked to [Rochester manager] Matt] Lecroy and he said he’s swinging the bat really well and playing really well, stealing bases, played center field, he said he did well. So it’s good to have him back.”