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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Victor Robles; Stephen Strasburg & Will Harris; and Yadiel Hernández

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s pregame Zoom calls with reporters...

Victor Mantis; Praying Robles:

Davey Martinez talked before the second of three with the Phillies in D.C. on Tuesday about the hard work Victor Robles continued to put in behind the scenes as he tried to get going offensively this season.

Robles had a .201/.322/.287 line, 16 doubles, a triple, a home run, 31 walks, and 68 Ks in 87 games and 292 plate appearances to that point, and the 24-year-old center fielder was still trying to get things going at the plate, tweaking things and looking for a fix.

“He’s getting his hands up a little bit, trying to get on top of the baseball,” Martinez said.

“Once again, you know, he’s working some good at bats, I know he lined out yesterday, but he’s still swinging at balls in the strike zone. And like I said, now it’s just a matter of him squaring them up and hitting them fair instead than fouling them off, and once he gets that done, he’s had some pretty good swings as of late, so we’ve got to continue to work with him and hopefully he gets it.”

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

After a tough 2020 campaign, and a rough few months this year, Martinez said he could understand Robles being frustrated with how things have gone.

“We talk a lot — if you go up as a young player and you start looking at numbers, you’re going to get frustrated when you’re hitting .200,” he said.

“We don’t want him to look at the numbers, we just want him to go out there and play, and play the game hard. When he gets on base, when he thinks he’s got to bunt, go ahead and lay down a bunt, play good defense, do all those things and don’t worry about the numbers, just go play. And we talk to him about it, I talk to him about it every day, and he’s just going out there and trying to play baseball. And like I said, when it clicks for him, he’s going to start getting hits, and I told him, ‘You’re not that far off, just keeping working good at bats, and it will happen, just keep working on it.’”

Robles went 0 for 3 with a hit-by-pitch in Tuesday’s game, but he led off on Wednesday night’s with a 424-foot home run to left field when he ambushed Philly’s starter, Chase Anderson, on a first-pitch fastball, connecting for his 2nd home run of 2021.

“I want to be more aggressive within the strike zone and do some damage with those pitches,” Robles said of jumping on that first-pitch strike.

A lot of hard work with hitting coach Kevin Long is paying off, and Robles all gave one of his teammates a shoutout for the help he’s provided.

“I feel great, I feel real good right now,” Robles said. “Kevin Long has always been there with me battling and trying to get me right, and I appreciate his hard work, we’ve been putting a lot of work in.

“I also appreciate Josh Bell, he’s helped as another set of eyes for me out there and just the time he gives me and the help he’s able to bring to me, any word of advice has been great, and he’s been very, very great about that. So I’ve been feeling good, especially these last few days, and with Kevin Long, just with working on trying to get the point of contact out in front a little bit more and it’s been working good so far.”

Injury Updates: The TOS Crew

Differentiating between the Thoracic Outlet Syndrome diagnoses that both Will Harris and Stephen Strasburg received from Dallas, TX-based Dr. Gregory Pearl this season, Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez explained after Strasburg was diagnosed with neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome, that while they were similar issues, as he put it, “Will’s was a blockage of the artery; with Stephen’s, it’s a nerve issue.”

The fourth-year skipper provided brief updates on each pitcher before Wednesday night’s game.

“[Strasburg] was in here today,” Martinez said. “He’s rehabbing. I haven’t talked to him yet. We’ll go in there some time after batting practice and see how he’s doing. He looks good though. I know he’s talked to some people and I’ve heard through rumors that he feels pretty good.”

Harris’s season ended back on May 22nd, after he missed time early, then tried to pitch with an issue, then undiagnosed, that was causing his right hand to swell after his outings.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

When he finally got a diagnosis, the reliever, who signed a 3-year/$24M deal in D.C. before 2020’s 60-game campaign, went in for surgery.

“He’s just rehabbing, continuing to rehab,” Martinez said when asked if there was an update on his recovery.

“Hopefully, I know things are going well rehabbing, we’ll see when he can start throwing, he might be able to start throwing some time later this month or next month.”

Off a mound? Or just throwing, like long-toss or flat ground?

“If we can get him off the mound, I’m looking at him just building strength and just playing catch and throwing 90 feet, 120 feet, and then go from there,” Martinez said.

“I’m not assuming that he’s going to throw off the mound any time soon, but as long as he can start playing catch, that’s progression and that’s awesome going into the offseason.”

Yadi Dadi Who Likes To Party?:

Before Tuesday’s game, Martinez talked about outfielder Yadiel Hernández, who’d put up a .536/.594/.857 line over the previous 15 games, with three doubles, two home runs, four walks, and four Ks over that stretch. So did that kind of run by the 33-year-old outfielder earn the “kid” a shot at taking over in left on an everyday basis after coming off the bench, filling in at times this season, and making the most of his opportunities?

“He’s playing well, he’s swinging the bat well,” Martinez said. “Like I’ve said all along, he can hit. Lefties, righties. When he gets ready on time, he hits the ball really well. For me, I don’t want him to try to do too much, he hits the ball left-center field, and he stays on the ball, so he’s been doing that.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

“It’s the rest of the game that we talk about with him. He’s in the National League, so he’s got to play left field in order to play, and I want him to take pride in playing left field, just as he does when he’s hitting. And he made a nice play yesterday, made a nice throw, and he’s been working out there and taking fly balls every day and wants to get better. So it’s good to see. He’s going to get a chance to play, just like those other guys. I want to get [Andrew Stevenson] out there, who’s playing today, [Victor] Robles is going to play. [Gerardo] Parra will play out there as well. So he’s going to an opportunity to play. Right now he’s swinging the bat well, he’s hitting in the middle of our lineup and driving in runs for us, so it’s good to see.”