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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Yan Gomes; foreign substance discussion + more...

Highlights and hot takes from Davey Martinez’s pregame Zoom call on Friday...

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Yan’s Hamstring Tweaked:

When the Washington Nationals’ lineup for last night’s series opener in Citizens Bank Park was released, and it did not include Yan Gomes’s name for the second straight day. It got the attention of reporters on Davey Martinez’s pregame Zoom call. Alex Avila got the start for the second day in a row, which... hadn’t happened previously this season, so everyone was wondering what was up.

“Yan’s got a little tightness in his hamstring,” Martinez said, “... so we want to make sure it doesn’t get any worse. Alex is going to catch again today again and we’ll see how Yan feels tomorrow.”

MLB: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Gomes has been going strong, and playing a lot this season. He was 5 for 13 with a double and a home run in three games in Atlanta this week, and behind the plate this year he has thrown out runners 42% of the time (11 of 26), so losing the backstop for any length of time would be a big blow, and that’s what Martinez and Co. on the Nationals’ bench are trying to avoid.

“Right now it’s just going to be day-to-day like I said,” Martinez explained. “I mean, he felt it a couple days ago, and I don’t want to take any chance.

“Keep it where it’s at, it gets a little bit better here hopefully soon, instead of having him go out there and all of a sudden something else happens, and it becomes a month-long issue.”


Going into play on Friday, the Nationals’ S.O.B.s, Studs Off the Bench, had a combined .284 AVG in pinch hit appearances, the second-best average in pinch hit at bats in the majors in 2021. Their .348 OBP as a group was 5th best in the big leagues, and their .469 SLG 4th. It’s some solid production from the likeable lads, and Martinez said he’s been happy to see the group come together and help each other out in a difficult role.

“Those guys, I’ll tell you, they’ve been unbelievable coming off the bench and putting balls in play and hitting balls hard,” Martinez said.

“But they take pride in it, and [Ryan Zimmerman] brings that. He’s the catalyst that leads them with that every day, making sure that they’re getting their work in, making sure they’re prepared for the at bat. They’ve been great. Zim, Jordy Mercer, those guys have been awesome on getting some of the younger guys prepared to hit, to get that one at bat which typically comes in a big moment and getting them ready.”

They’ve also bonded over their status as S.O.B.s. They have not, however, given the skipper one of the S.O.B. t-shirts they made. [ed. note - “You need to earn it, Skip!”]

“I’ve got to be initiated,” Martinez joked.

“That’s one thing, I don’t know how good I was as a pinch hitter, to be honest with you.”

We checked (as did one reporter on the call). Martinez, in his 16-year career, was 54 for 231 in pinch hit appearances (.234/.328/.299) with 13 doubles, a triple, 32 walks, and 50 Ks.

“I was a guy that got on base,” Martinez joked.

Sticky Stuff:

Major League Baseball is determined to crack down on the use of foreign substances by the pitchers across the league, with potential suspensions looming as they move into what USA Today’s Bob Nightengale described as the, “... next phase of league-directed enforcement banning the use of foreign substances by pitchers.”

Martinez’s take on the use of foreign substances by MLB’s hurlers? It might surprise you. He is — sort of pro substance?

“My big thing is the health of a hitter,” Martinez explained on Friday afternoon’s Zoom call, “and if they can do something to make the balls a little bit more tacky, so that pitchers can have a better grip, I’m all for it.

Chicago Cubs v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images

“And that’s what — for me that’s what the bottom line is, it’s just about the health of the hitter getting up there.

“You put nothing on that ball and you get your hands all sweaty, those balls are going to slip. There’s no doubt about it, they’re going to slip, and I just hope that nobody really gets hurt, and I know they’re looking, MLB is doing their due diligence, looking at all kinds of different things, how to make this better, so hopefully they’ll come up with something real soon.”

As the skipper sees it, it’s really simple, sort of like what hitters do with their bats.

“Yeah, I think for sure — it’s just like - perfect example, if you look at a hitter, they use pine tar because of the grip, they spray stuff on the bat to give them a better grip,” he said.

“If you don’t put that on the bat, as you can see, when your hands get sweaty or your gloves are wet, you’re not going to hold on to that bat, the bat’s going to go flying. So, same thing with a baseball.”

New Guy Signed/Assigned to Rochester:

There was an update on the Washington Nationals’ Transactions page this morning.

“Washington Nationals signed free agent LHP Josh Rogers to a minor league contract.”

Rogers, 26, and a 2015 11th Round pick by the New York Yankees who was dealt to Baltimore in the Zach Britton trade in 2018, underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019, and he got released by the Orioles earlier this week after posting a 7.79 ERA in four games this season at Triple-A in the O’s system.

So, some organizational depth for the Nationals?

“We try to look for not only depth, but also try to get some more left-handed pitching,” the Nationals’ manager said on Friday.

San Diego Padres v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

“So he was available, we like some of the stuff that he bring with him, so he’s going to start at Rochester and see what he does.”

Martinez also said they had no concerns about picking up the left two years after Tommy John.

“It’s a surgery that we see a lot of guys bouncing back from. So in this day and age you’re really not afraid of those guys. So, his velo is starting to get up there a little bit more, so we’re interested in getting him out there, getting him stretched out and seeing what he does.”