Injured List Is Like The On the Road Scroll:
With Kyle Schwarber (hamstring strain) and Alex Avila (bilateral calf strains) both added to the 10-Day IL on Saturday, the Washington Nationals’ roster is fairly-well decimated, but it doesn’t mean they won’t have to keep playing games, so manager Davey Martinez talked before Saturday’s matchup with the Dodgers about continuing on as they wait for the long list of the injured players to make their way back to the lineup (or bullpen/bench).
“We got to focus on the here and now and stay positive,” Martinez said, “and I believe in all those guys in the clubhouse, and I say it all the time. It takes 26 guys to collaborate to play together to win ballgames, and we have those guys still.”
They didn’t have Schwarber, Avila, Turner, Jordy Mercer, Andrew Stevenson, Daniel Hudson, Stephen Strasburg, Erick Fedde, Kyle Finnegan, Will Harris, or Tanner Rainey. Did ... we miss anyone?
“Obviously we are missing some big pieces,” Martinez said, “... but we can compete and our pitching, as you can see yesterday, Max [Scherzer] gave us a good six innings, but I feel like our pitching can keep us in the game, we just got to score some runs, and try to win some of these games.
“We got some big games coming up and then we get a break for four days, so we got to finish up strong this last week or so, seven or eight games or whatever, and finish up strong and get a break and come back fresh and get going again.
“For right now, like I said, we got the Dodgers today again, we got to come out today and try to go 1-0 today.”
How does Martinez, who’s relentlessly positive, stay that way given all that’s happened to his club as they’ve fought their way back into the race in the NL East?
“Like I tell them every day, there’s a lot of baseball left, a lot of good baseball left. We’ve got to stay positive,” the fourth-year manager said.
“I’m going to pump up the guys that are active, and that can play, and that can help us win right now, for the rest of the guys, they’re around, and I don’t have to tell Schwarber to stay positive. You see Stephen Strasburg, he’s in the dugout and always talking to the young players, and young pitchers, and discussing different things. These guys are here, and they’re being positive as well.
“When somebody goes down, believe me the team feels it, but they also want to do well for that guy until he gets back.
“I believe in these guys, I believe in everybody in that clubhouse, I believe in my staff, our medical staff. We’ll get these guys back. For the meantime, we’ve got to go out there and compete and try to win today’s game.”
Alcides Escobar 4th SS in 4 Days:
Trea Turner started at short on Wednesday, and jammed his finger sliding into third base on a cycle-completing triple. Starlin Castro moved from 5 to 6 for Thursday’s series opener with the Dodgers. Humberto Arteaga started at short for the second of four with LA in D.C. on Friday, and Saturday night it was the recently-acquired (as in the trade was made official hours before first pitch) Alcides Escobar getting the start at shortstop as Turner waits for the swelling in the finger to go down.
Acquired from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for cash considerations and added to the active roster late on Saturday afternoon, Escobar, 34, was part of the World Series-winner in KC in 2015, but he had not played in the majors since 2018, before he was penciled in as the No. 7 hitter in the Nationals’ lineup last night.
“He’s [an 11]-year veteran, major league player, played in the postseason, played in the World Series, good glove, he’s been hitting the ball really well, so we thought he’d be a good fit,” Martinez said.
“Not only can he play shortstop, but he can also play different positions in the infield as well.
“We’ll see what happens, we’re waiting to see what happens with Trea, and then we’ll go from there.”
Unfortunately, the addition of another infielder meant Arteaga was DFA’d after one game with the Nationals, but he did manage to hit a sac fly on Friday, in his one game with the club, making a good impression on the Nationals’ manager.
“He did well. He held his own out there, he knocked in a run for us, you know, with a sac fly, but he did real well.”
Kieboom’s Knee Update:
As we wrote in the last edition of our Nationals’ news & notes, Martinez, in talking about all of the injured infielders throughout the organization, and how they were unavailable when Turner was injured, leaving the front office scrambling for someone available to play short, told reporters that Carter Kieboom was injured.
“Carter is not available. Carter is hurt. He’s got a knee injury, so he’s out,” Martinez said on Thursday night.
Kieboom has a .248/.380/.409 line on the year at Triple-A Rochester, with seven doubles and five home runs in 40 games, but he hasn’t played since June 29th at this point.
“Honestly, that’s all I know,” Martinez said, referring to what he’d told everyone the previous night when asked a follow-up question on Friday’s pregame Zoom call. “The only thing I can say is it’s the back of his knee. He felt something pop, but that’s really all I know.”
He was asked again on Saturday. So did he learn anything else overnight?
“No,” he said, “... but I will definitely look into that a little bit more and let you know what’s going on with that. I haven’t heard anything else about it, other than that it’s his knee.
“And so I’ll definitely get something else on that and let you know.”
Message To Players?:
So what does Martinez tell his team as they’ve fought their way back into the race in the NL East and now been beset by all of these injuries? What’s his message to the team?
“One, the focus is on today,” Mr. 1-0 Every Day said, remaining, as ever, on brand. “And we need to really focus on today, and play hard today and try to win a game today. Don’t think about the future, don’t worry about the past, because there’s nothing that you can do, yeah, there’s guys that are down, but there’s also guys in this clubhouse that are biting at the bit to get either more playing time, or that want to help more, and those guys are ready.
“We got guys in that clubhouse too that don’t skip a beat, J-Hay [Josh Harrison], Josh Bell, those guys are always positive and they’re great at that, [Ryan Zimmerman], they saw Schwarber last night, and they talked to him, and they all said, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it, we’re going to pick you up and can’t wait till you get back.’ So, like I said, I believe in all these guys, they understand the game, they understand how long this season is and things happen that you can’t control and we just got to keep pushing.”