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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Victor Robles in center; Jefry Rodríguez returning to org; Carter Kieboom at third...

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability on Thursday...

Return of the Robles:

Victor Robles was sick, and not hitting well, and newly-acquired outfielder Lane Thomas was healthy, and swinging it, so Davey Martinez gave Thomas, acquired from St. Louis at last month’s trade deadline in return for Jon Lester, four-straight starts in center field this week, while noting that Robles would be back in there sometime soon.

Speaking shortly after Washington’s lineup for their series finale with the Miami Marlins in loanDepot park was posted on Thursday afternoon, with Robles back up top, leading off for the Nationals, Martinez explained why he decided to put the 24-year-old outfielder back in there.

“I watched yesterday,” Martinez explained. “He was moving around pretty good. I gave him a couple days to get back into things and he’s back in there today. I’m not saying that — Lane has been doing great, but I told you I want to get Victor back in there, he’s back in there today. I thought the matchup today would be good for him, so he’s going to lead off for us.”

Washington Nationals v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Martinez talked on Wednesday about needing more from Robles, but providing all of the support the outfielder could ask for, and before last night’s game, he was asked how the young center fielder handles all the criticism and advice.

“He’s been good,” the fourth-year skipper said. “He’s been working hard. I talked to our coaching staff about his work, what he’s been doing, and I keep an eye on him, and he is getting all his work in. I mean, he’s putting a lot of time in the cage with K-Long [Hitting Coach Kevin Long] and Six [Assistant Hitting Coach Pat Roessler]. He’s working in the outfield with [Third Base and outfield coach] Bobby [Henley]. He’s working diligently to get better and that’s all I can ask him to do, is, ‘Hey, you’ve got to continue to work. Put the work in and continue to get better.’ I said, ‘Remember, hitting is just part of if, you got to play good defense, you got to run the bases well, you got to be a good teammate,’ so he understands that. He’s been good.”

Jefry Rodríguez Decides To Stay:

Jefry Rodríguez, pitching sporadically, posted a 5.92 ERA, a 6.95 FIP, 17 walks, and 20 Ks in 14 games and 24 13 IP with the Nationals this season, before he was DFA’d (Designated For Assignment) when a couple moves were made to clear roster space for the club to call up relievers Sam Clay and Patrick Murphy.

Rodríguez, 28, signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic back in 2012, and debuted in the majors with the club back in 2018, before he was dealt in the Yan Gomes trade with Cleveland that winter, but he returned to the organization this winter on a minor league deal, and worked his way back up to the big leagues.

“Jefry, had an opportunity here,” Martinez said after the initial moves were announced on 8/24.

“We DFA’d him. Hopefully, I talked to him for a while, hopefully he clears waivers, we can get him back, get him in our minor leagues, and work with him as well at just throwing strikes.

Washington Nationals v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

“The biggest thing with Jefry is pounding that strike zone and getting ahead of hitters, but he’s got good life on his fastball, we wanted him to throw a little more offspeed pitches, in the zone, especially early in the counts, so hopefully we get him back and they can work with him on that.”

Before last night’s game, the Nationals announced that Rodríguez cleared outright waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Rochester.

“The biggest thing with him is throwing strikes,” Martinez reiterated after Rodriguez decided to come back, “... and we’re going to continue to work with him to not only throw strikes, get ahead of hitters, but put hitters away. I want to see him work the strike zone a little bit better. He’s got a really good curveball, I want to see him throw it a little bit more, and just try to get him back and hopefully he can help us here soon again.”

Kieboom’s Backhand Play on Wednesday:

Austin Voth worked his way out of a jam on Wednesday night in a bottom of the ninth inning that began with Carter Kieboom missing a backhand attempt on a Bryan De La Cruz ground ball to third, so it didn’t lead to any real damage in what was a 3-3 game at the time, but the third baseman’s skipper talked after the game (when we asked) about what he’d seen on the play from his 23-year-old infielder.

“I think [with] Carter, it’s a decision-making process where you’re either going to come get it, and come through the ball and get it, or you play it on another bounce,” Martinez said.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

“So I think he got caught in-between, he looked like he wanted to come get it and stopped his feet, now I think that’s what happened, you have to keep coming, and run through that ball and just try to make the play.”

The manager took another look at the play overnight, and when he was asked again he did offer a little more insight into what he thought Kieboom should have done on the play.

“We talked about it a little bit yesterday,” he said. “I saw it again this morning, it’s one of those plays where, like I said, if he’s going to come get the ball, you got to continue to move your feet. It’s going to be one of those plays where it’s going to be bang-bang at first base. I think once he got to the ball, he kind of stopped to catch the ball, that’s a ball you’ve really got to run through, and get it on that short hop and then try to make a perfect throw. This is something that a young third baseman needs to learn over there, but you know, it’s not exactly an easy play, it’s just something that he’s got to learn how to do.”