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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Carter Kieboom getting called back up; Kyle Schwarber; Stephen Strasburg + more...

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Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability on Saturday afternoon...

Kieboom Gets Another Shot:

Carter Kieboom was considered as an option to come up and play the infield when both Trea Turner and Jordy Mercer were injured earlier this month, but the Nationals’ 2016 1st round pick was dealing with a knee issue at the time, so the club had to choose another option.

Mercer ended up back on the 10-Day IL on Saturday afternoon, with a left calf strain, and this time Kieboom was available and back playing at Triple-A, so the 23-year-old infielder came back to the majors for the second time this season, after failing to lock down the third base job in Spring Training, but making the Opening Day roster when there was a COVID-19 outbreak in the clubhouse.

“Obviously we needed an infielder, Carter was healthy, getting healthy, he played the last few days, he stole a base yesterday, so we decided to bring him up,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters before Saturday’s game.

“He was swinging the bat really well, so we decided to bring him up.

“Jordy re-injured himself, so it’s going to be a few days before he could run, we could backdate it, so hopefully he gets back as soon as possible.”

Mercer’s move to the IL was retroactive to July 21. In 37 games this year, the 34-year-old infielder, who missed time with a quad strain earlier this month, has put up a .267 AVG, hitting five doubles and a home run for the Nationals.

Kieboom has a .236/.376/.385 line with seven doubles, five home runs, 26 walks, and 31 Ks in 44 games and 181 plate appearances with Triple-A Rochester this season.

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

What does Martinez want to see from him this time up?

“When he gets an opportunity to play just go out there, and relax, and have fun,” he said.

“They said he made some changes to his swing. I’m curious to see — other than watching video, just watching how he goes about his business up here, and how he attacks the pitchers, but most of all I just want him to go out there and have fun, make the plays, and just go out there and help us win.”

If Kieboom is up, is he going to play? Or will he come off the bench while he’s up in the majors?

“We’ll see,” Martinez said. “Right now we got a lot of lefties playing in our lineup, against — we got a left-handed pitcher, we might plop him in and see, give some other guys a day, but we’ll see how it goes. Like I said, he just got back off the IL, I know he’s been playing the last few days, he’s felt good, like I said, I saw he stole a base and I asked him about that and how he felt, he said he had no issues, so I told him to go out there and get your work in today and we’ll see how you feel, and just be ready to come off the bench, maybe pinch hit, maybe play defense, who knows. But be ready to play.”

As for how Mercer hurt his calf this time?

“He strained his calf, he doesn’t really know how he did it, woke up the next day and said his calf was really bothering him,” Martinez told reporters.

“We tried to get him to do some exercise, run, he said it was pretty stiff, he came in again yesterday and said it was no better, so we decided to put him on the IL and give him some time.”

Schwarbombs Update:

Here’s a quick note on Kyle Schwarber (hamstring), who’s been on the IL since the injury brought an end to his ridiculous run in June.

Schwarber has been spotted taking BP the last few days, and he was running in the outfield in Oriole Park on Saturday too.

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

“Kyle is making progress,” Martinez said. “There’s no timetable with him, but man, he’s working diligently to get back.

“I watched him take batting practice yesterday on the field, and swing-wise he looks normal.

“The next hurdle will be to run, to get some strides in, build his speed back up and then go from there.”

Strasburg in 2021 or 2022?:

After Davey Martinez announced on Friday that Stephen Strasburg suffered another setback in his rehab from a neck strain that landed him on the 10-Day IL back in early June, we were wondering if we’ll see the 2019 World Series MVP on the mound again in 2021, or if the club would be better served by turning their focus to getting him healthy and ready for 2022?

Strasburg has, after all, thrown a total of 26 23 IP in seven starts over the last two seasons, after he was limited by carpal tunnel neuritis in 2020’s 60-game campaign, and had to go for surgery to fix the issue.

Washington Nationals Workout Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

He missed time earlier this season with inflammation in his right shoulder, and ended up on the IL a second time with the neck strain which has kept him out of game action since June 1st.

So is there a point at which, as the club seeks new opinions on the issue and attempts to tweak his delivery/mechanics to avoid having it happen again, they decide it’s not worth getting him back on the mound this season and turns the focus towards getting him back for 2022, or is there value in having him get on the mound again this season to start the process of building back up before he heads into the offseason?

“If we can get him right,” Martinez said, “I want him to pitch this year. I want him to get out there. I don’t care if it’s five starts, four starts, but I want him to step on that mound knowing that going into next year that he’s healthy and he’s ready to go.”