Carter Kieboom hit his first home run of the season on Monday night, connected for his 2nd on Wednesday, and on Thursday afternoon, the 23-year-old, 2016 first round pick went 2 for 4 with his first double of 2021 and a walk, and his 4th multi-hit game in the last seven.
Kieboom had a five-game hit streak coming out of the finale with Philadelphia’s Phillies, and hits in seven of his last eight, over which he was 11 for 27 (.407/.469/.667).
“He’s being aggressive, he’s being aggressive in the strike zone,” Davey Martinez said after the fourth straight loss to the Phillies.
“And we like it. He’s not often hitting with two strikes like he was in the past. He’s swinging early in counts and swinging at strikes.
“He’s got a good eye, and he’s putting the ball in play, which is good.”
Kieboom did, however, also have a costly error in the ninth inning on Thursday, so the good and bad with the infielder was on display in D.C.
He fielded a one-hopper toward third base while falling into foul territory and threw high to first base, pulling Josh Bell off the bag.
“We got to keep working with him,” Martinez said. “He’s definitely getting better going to his left, coming in on the balls. I think he’s taking too many steps to release the ball. When it’s a play like that, you just want to get the ball, take a step to where you’re throwing and throw it. We’re going to continue to work with him, but like I said, both him and [Luis] García are swinging the bats and overall I like their play. They’re being aggressive up at the plate, and they’re playing hard every day, they’re running the bases hard, they’re playing hard.”
Kieboom, who has looked like the prospect the Nationals thought he was during this recent stretch, said that he appreciated the votes of confidence Martinez and the rest of the club have given him over the last few seasons as he’s struggled to adjust to the big league game.
“It’s huge,” Kieboom said. “As a player, you just want the support. They all understand that this game is tough and everybody goes through struggles at times, and it’s never — it’s kind of unfortunate that it was when I was first starting to come up here that I struggled, so it made it a little more difficult, but I will always appreciate the Nationals for how they stuck with me throughout that process and gave me another opportunity, so that’s huge and I’ll be grateful for that forever.”
Kieboom lined a single to left in the fourth inning of Friday’s series opener in Atlanta to extend his hit streak to six straight games.
Clubhouse Leaders/Excuse To Post Pic:
In his post game interview on Thursday, Carter Kieboom was asked who has stepped up for the Nationals in the clubhouse as leaders after the club traded away a total of eight of their veterans, seven on expiring deals, at the trade deadline.
“I think it’s something that honestly doesn’t — well, we still have veteran players. We have Jordy Mercer. We have — Jordy Mercer has been huge. He hasn’t been able to play right now so he’s been helping us out, since we’re kind of shorthanded with staff as well. He’s been a huge help so far, and [Ryan] Zimmerman obviously is huge, and Josh Bell as well.
“So, you know it’s kind of we all know what’s at stake and I think what’s understood doesn’t need to be explained, so we don’t talk about it, we show up every day and we do our job.”
Speaking of Mercer and Zimmerman:
Random Rizzo Quotes:
With Trea Turner coming off the COVID-IL to suit up for the Los Angeles Dodgers for the first time last night, we were thinking about one of Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo’s comments on the decision to trade the shortstop to LA along with Max Scherzer at the trade deadline in a 2 for 4 deal.
Turner, of course, was a fixture on the left side of the infield since he was acquired from the San Diego Padres in a three-team deal with the Tampa Bays Rays back in 2015.
A reporter asked Rizzo about “moving on” from Turner, as they put it, after a couple years of rumors that the team was discussing long-terms deals with the shortstop.
“We didn’t move on from Trea,” Rizzo said. “It was one of the greatest trades I ever made in my career, he was a beloved player in the clubhouse, I loved him myself, we maximized Trea’s value because of where we’re at as a franchise, and Trea Turner with two playoff runs in him and one and a half years is way more valuable than a Trea Turner that’s got one more year before free agency. So that was the biggest reason that went into the decision-making process.
“The Dodgers specifically were very intrigued by a Trea, having him for more than a rental player, and I think you saw the prospect package.
“We benefitted from the prospect package because of the length of the contract that he had left.”
But about those extension talks, were they still talking about a deal before the trade?
“We had extension talks in Spring Training of ‘20 and we extended ideas back and forth. We didn’t get it done that year,” Rizzo said.
“When the season started, we both wanted to table discussions till the offseason, and then COVID hit, and so we put that on the back-burner.
“And then there was — Trea and his people wanted to wait for other shortstops in the market to sign, and so when that happened we decided to table the negotiations until after this season.”