How You Holding Up?:
It’s been a week. With the trade rumors causing all kinds of stress and raising plenty of big questions ahead of Friday’s (July 30th) 4:00 Trade Deadline, and a COVID outbreak that hit the club in Philadelphia (not to mention the news on Stephen Strasburg needing a season-ending surgical procedure, more on that in a minute), Davey Martinez and the Washington Nationals are going through it.
So how are the fourth-year manager and his club holding up with all the turmoil? It was nice that someone asked him...
“We’re holding up,” Martinez said in his pregame Zoom call with reporters before the first of two with the Phillies in CBP on Thursday.
“Hey, these guys, we’ve been through a lot together and they understand, and my job is to keep these guys positive, try to keep everybody as safe as possible. We’ve gone through a lot. But the most important thing is that we’re going to stick together, and we’re going through a lot of different scenarios right now, but they’re positive, they’re all in there getting ready.
“I’m sitting here, you guys can’t hear, but there’s guys hitting in the cage and getting ready for a 12:05 game.”
Martinez announced on Wednesday that 12 members of the organization, four players and eight staff members tested positive for COVID-19, and he noted that another staff member tested positive in follow-up testing, but so far the symptoms, for those who have any, have been mild.
“No one is too serious,” the manager confirmed.
“I want to reiterate and I truly believe from what I’ve seen, thank god that most of us, if not all of us is vaccinated, and it does help. The vaccination does help.
“I couldn’t even imagine going through this with people that aren’t vaccinated,” he added.
“But the vaccination does help. There were some mild symptoms and that’s all it was. I’m really glad that we were all vaccinated.”
Strasdate; Upstras; Upburg:
Davey Martinez and the Nationals announced earlier this week that after dealing with some shoulder and neck issues this year which limited him to five starts and 21 1⁄3 innings pitched, a year after an issue with carpal tunnel neuritis required surgery, Stephen Strasburg would have surgery again after being diagnosed with neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome.
“He went to see Dr. [Gregory] Pearl, which is the guy in Dallas that actually Will Harris went and saw,” Martinez explained. “So he went to go see him and like I said, they talked about what his thoughts were and Strasburg decided last night to have the surgery, he wants to get it done right away, so he’s going to go in tomorrow.”
On Thursday, the manager said Strasburg underwent the procedure.
“Strasburg did have his surgery,” Martinez told reporters.
“Everything went well. He’s in recovery. He’s doing fine, so hopefully once he can start rehabbing, he’ll start rehabbing, and progress, and hopefully be ready for Spring Training.”
Max and Yan:
Max Scherzer earned the win on the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader with the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park, when he tossed six scoreless and Yan Gomes hit a go-ahead, two-run home run in the top of the seventh. A few hours later, Scherzer was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Trea Turner in return four four prospects, including the top pitching and position player in the Dodgers’ system.
Before that deal was completed, Scherzer talked about his time working with Gomes over their three years together in the nation’s capital.
Gomes, 34, and in the second year of a 2-year/$10M deal with the team, is rumored to be available for a trade as well. He returned from an IL stint for an oblique injury to homer in the Nationals’ win.
“Yeah, for him to just pop back out of — doesn’t even go on a rehab assignment, just, ‘Hey, we’re going to go out and face Zack Wheeler!’ and then sure enough he hits a two-run shot. Something that I love.
“I always joke with the guys that solo shots don’t beat you and sure enough he hits a two-run shot to win the game.
“That’s the stuff that I love joking around with the guys, and today it actually came true, and that’s the fun stuff, is throwing to Yan and watching him go out there and win a ballgame with his bat and he did a great job behind the plate too with how we wanted to kind of pitch and sequence, and it was a fun day today.”
And how important was Gomes, the one-time Tennessee Volunteers’ catcher, to his success over the past few seasons?
“Just a pro,” Scherzer said. “The way he goes about his business, how he is in the clubhouse and everything, we’ve even got a little Tennessee connection because I’m a big fan of Tennessee baseball right now because of Tony Vitello, so we have nice little conversations about that, so he’s been a friend of mine over these years that he’s been here, and he’s been a great teammate for me and a great catcher.”
HarrisOBP or Harristreak - We Can’t Decide:
Josh Harrison went in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader with the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park having reached base safely in eleven straight games, with hits in 10 of 11 during that stretch, over which the Nationals’ 34-year-old infielder was 16 for 43 (.372 AVG) with seven doubles and two triples, four RBIs, one HBP, four walks, and a total of eight runs scored.
With a leadoff double in the second inning of Game 1 of 2, Harrison extended the on-base streak to twelve straight games, and collected a hit in the 11th of his last 12 games.
Harrison went 2 for 3 with two doubles in the Nationals’ win in the first of two, and 3 for 5 with home run in the club’s walk-off loss in the second game.
In a post game Zoom call with reporters, Harrison said he’s benefited from the time off in the All-Star break.
“Just feeling good,” Harrison said. “That All-Star break was a four-day reset that I needed mentally and physically, and since we’ve come back I’ve just kind of felt like I didn’t miss a beat. I won’t say I’m doing anything different than what I have been, just knowing where I need to be physically, and putting good swings on the ball.”
Another contributing factor to his success, Harrison said, is the fact that he’s been able to stay healthy this season after a few years of dealing with injury issue.
“I know at one point I have an August Player of the Month,” Harrison said of his second-half success, “not to toot my own horn, it was a some years ago, but at the same time it’s been since 2017, or early ‘18 since I’ve played every day healthy. And that first half of the season was a good test for me going out there every day, and the second half was enough for me to say, alright, I got through the first half feeling good, and the second half is just where I continue go.”