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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Kyle Schwarber, leadoff hitter; the rally helmet; injury updates...

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s daily media availability on Wednesday...

We’ll Never Get Tired Of This Story:

Heading into play on Tuesday, Kyle Schwarber was 24 for 69 (.348/.403/1.043) with 16 home runs in 21 games since Davey Martinez first moved him to the leadoff spot back on June 12th in Tampa Bay.

Schwarber talked late on Tuesday night, after hitting yet another leadoff home run against the Rays in D.C., his seventh in his first at bat in 18 games as the Nationals’ leadoff man to that point, about the breakthrough moment which followed shortly after his manager put him in the top spot in the batting order.

“Man, I felt like I went through a pretty good streak earlier in the season, when we were in Arizona, going to Chicago [in mid-May], hit a little skid I think at some point, I was like 0 for whatever and Davey put me in the leadoff spot, and we were in Tampa and I was able to go out on the field and work with K-Long [Kevin Long] and Josh Harrison was out there too, working, and felt like it was just a good session out there being able to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish, and ever since then it’s kind of just since that day, it’s been clicking.”

And he’s done everything the same as far as his pregame routine since.

New York Mets v Washington Nationals Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

“100% the same thing,” he explained.

“If anything, not ‘shortening’ it, just taking fewer swings in the spots. You know what I mean? You’re having some hot days come up here, and not wanting to wear yourself out before you head out, so just making sure you get the maintenance you want in that spot and then moving on to the next.”

“And that’s kind of the biggest thing,” Schwarber continued, in talking about trying to stay hot, “... is just keeping that feeling in the cage, keeping that feeling in your routine, so that whenever you go into the game and you take your swing, that whenever your bat hits the ball, you don’t have any control after that, the only thing you control is from your load to the contact point, and that’s it, so just keeping those same thoughts, and keeping a good approach at the plate.”

So, what was Martinez’s motivation in moving Schwarber to the leadoff spot, where he’d hit before with the Chicago Cubs, but not like this.

“One is to get him to be a little bit more patient, swing at strikes, get the ball in the zone,” the fourth-year skipper said. “I’ve known Schwarber for a long time, and I’ve watched him hit when he’s really good, and when he gets the ball in the strike zone he can do some damage and hit the ball hard. Never to expect he was going to do what he’s doing now, but it’s been awesome, and he’s doing exactly that. Like I’ve said, my conversations with him every day is, ‘Accept your walks, and get the ball in the strike zone and be ready to hit.’ And he’s been doing that, and what I like is that he’s been aggressive, from the first pitch that he sees, and on. So, he’s getting in a good position to hit and it’s worked out for him and it’s worked out for us as well.”

Key To The Batter’s Box? What about the Rally Helmet?:

We learned all about the key to the batter’s box the Nationals are passing around the dugout, but, a reporter wondered when Kyle Schwarber spoke on Zoom after Tuesday night’s game, what ever happened to the rally helmet the club handed out and wore in press conferences early this season?

“I don’t know,” Schwarber, who wore it well at one point, said.

“That’s a good question, that’s a really good question. We’re going to have to do some more digging and maybe pull that thing out next time.”

It was Davey Martinez’s helmet, which he got from the Capitals, so he probably knows how to find it.

“You know what, I don’t know where the rally helmet went, honestly,” Martinez said before Wednesday night’s game.

“I have it. I have it,” he clarified. “But they haven’t brought it out yet. Every now and then they’ll wear it, but they haven’t worn it to the press conference yet. We’ll get it back out.”

Daniel Hudson Still Working + Stephen Strasburg Update:

Daniel Hudson ended up on the IL with right elbow inflammation on June 12th, but he’s been throwing and building towards a return in recent days, and Martinez said Monday that the right-handed reliever would throw a bullpen on Wednesday. So how’d Hudson’s bullpen go?

“He threw the ball really well,” the Nats’ skipper said. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. He’ll have off tomorrow and then we’ll get him out for another bullpen session hopefully the next day.

Baltimore Orioles v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

“As you can see, Stephen Strasburg is out there playing long-toss today and he felt good, he threw a nice 40-pitch bullpen and he felt good, so hopefully — he’s scheduled to throw another one on Friday, hopefully longer, and we’ll see how that goes.”

How many pitches did Hudson throw? “25.”

How many will Strasburg throw in his next bullpen?

“I think if he threw 50-55, I think that would be great.”

Oh, wait. How about Kyle Finnegan, who’s been on the IL since June 22nd with a hamstring strain in his left leg?

“He’s getting close,” Martinez said.

“He threw a bullpen yesterday, he’s going out there again today, we’ll see where he’s at, we’ll see how he feels, and then we’ll go from there, but I think he’s getting really close.”