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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Victor Robles’s range; Stephen Strasburg throwing sim game + more...

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability last night from Oracle Park...

Hair on Fire In Rochester Update:

Andrew Stevenson (oblique tweak) has been rehabbing at Triple-A Rochester since back on July 4th, after he ended up on the 10-Day IL on June 18th, retroactive to June 17, and if there was any chance of him joining the big league team again before the All-Star break, it won’t be happening.

Before last night’s game, the Nationals announced that they had reinstated him from the IL and optioned him to Rochester.

Through three games with the Nationals’ top minor league affiliate, Stevenson, who got a night off on Thursday, but was back in the lineup on Friday night, was 4 for 9 at the plate, with two walks and two Ks in his first three games.

Before the Nationals’ series opener with the San Francisco Giants last night in Oracle Park, Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said that they wanted the 27-year-old outfielder to get some more at bats before he returns to the majors. So rather than rush him out to join the team with three to play before the All-Star Break, they were going to leave him in Rochester for now.

“We’ve been playing well, as you can see, so for him to try to meet the team here,” Martinez said, “... unless something drastic happens, we want him to get four at bats a game for the next couple of days and then we’ll go from there.”

Yes, or No? And Did Anyone Ask Max?:

Early on Friday afternoon, FanSided’s Robert Murray reported that the Nationals and Derek Dietrich were working on a deal, after the veteran infielder/outfielder opted out of his deal with the New York Yankees earlier this week.

In 36 games and 143 plate appearances with NY’s Triple-A affiliate this season, the 31-year-old, eight-year vet had a .215/.413/.393 line, four doubles, and five home runs.

MLB Network analyst Jon Heyman later reported that a deal was done:

Washington Post writer Jesse Dougherty has since confirmed that a source said it’s a minor league deal:

Martinez said he wasn’t able to comment on the then-and-maybe-still-pending deal when he spoke with reporters before Friday night’s game.

“I can’t make any comment on that right now, “ the fourth-year skipper said.

Our first thought: Didn’t Dietrich and Scherzer have beef a few years back?

Stephdate - Strasdate - UpStras - Upburg?:

Stephen Strasburg, out since he landed on the 10-Day IL for the second time this season with a neck strain on June 2nd, has been slowly building towards a return, with his throwing program progressing over the last few weeks, and according to what Martinez said on Friday, the 32-year-old right-hander took another step, throwing a sim game.

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

“He threw a sim game yesterday,” Martinez told reporters.

“It went well. So we’ll see what’s next for him. He’s going to go through his routine today and tomorrow and then we’ll come up with another plan for him.”

Any sort of plan for the right-hander’s activity during the All-Star break, Martinez said, will depend on how he feels after the sim game.

“We’ll see how he feels today and tomorrow and then we’ll go from there.”

Robles Robs Cronenworth x 2:

Victor Robles robbed Padres’ infielder Jake Cronenworth twice in Thursday night’s series finale in San Diego, CA’s Petco Park. For the sake of this discussion, we’re talking about a catch Robles made in the left-center gap in the first inning of the game, when he ranged over to his right before diving to rob Cronenworth.

Max Scherzer, whose outing against the Padres went pear-shaped in the fourth, talked to reporters after the game about how Robles’s range allows them to position fielders really aggressively as they did in this case, pitching the left-handed hitter away, and lining it up accordingly in the outfield.

“Yeah, that was kind of what I game planned for,” Scherzer explained, “... was, when I was pitching with Cronenworth, I thought he was going to go oppo in that situation, I had everybody lined up for that type of fly ball, and so it shows you with Victor’s range and his speed he’s able to cover some ground, so it gives me some flexibility on how you want to position even [Josh Harrison in left field].

“It kind of opens the door for more room — you can be more aggressive how you want to position Josh, when you have the range of Victor in center.

“Outstanding catch by him, what he was able to do, and obviously the other diving catch as well.”

“He’s been really good out there,” Davey Martinez said before Friday’s game, when he too was asked about that diving catch, and having Harrison closer to the line, knowing that it was possible to cover the gap with Robles’s range.

“We talk a lot about the improvement he made from last year to this year, and he’s worked diligently on his first step, and he’s been really good. Getting good jumps, getting good breaks on balls. So we can do a lot of different things with Vic out there as far as if we think we think we need to cover the line a little bit more knowing that he can cover the gaps, so it’s worked out well.”

“He’s got unbelievable closing speed,” the manager added, “as you saw over this past week on some of the plays that he made. He gets to the ball really, really quickly and can cover a lot of ground.”

Robles got the night off on Friday, at least in part, because he’s been diving all over the field in recent days.

“Just a rest day,” Martinez said. “As you can see he’s been flying all over the field as of late, so we’re just giving him a day.”

Going Into The Break:

After winning 9 of 11 games at the end of a 19-9 June/into early July, the Nationals had lost 6 of 8 games going into the series opener with the San Francisco Giants last night, falling two games under .500 at 42-44, which left them 4.5 games out in fourth place in the NL East.

Thursday night’s loss was particularly deflating, after the Nationals jumped up 8-0 on the San Diego Padres and eventually lost the game, 9-8, on a walk off hit.

In spite of that disappointment, it should not surprise anyone that Martinez remains positive about how things are going lately, but as much as he might want to keep going to keep the good times rolling, everyone, but the 2021 All-Stars, is going to get off next week during the All-Star break.

“Yeah, we are playing well, and unfortunately part of our game is to get those days off,” the manager said on Friday night, and the players need it.

“Players do need it, I mean they really do. And we’ve been battling day in and day out. But they understand that when we come back we’ve got to come back and start off strong as well, so we talk a lot about these guys, even though they have a break, but do some kind of stretching, some form of exercise, maybe for a day or two, and really keep themselves going so that when we get back there’s no hesitation, we jump right back in this things.

“We play a tough team right when we come back, we play San Diego again, so we’ve got to be ready.”