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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Keibert Ruiz returning; Max Scherzer reaching 3000 Ks; Tanner Rainey + more...

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Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability on Monday afternoon from D.C.

Keibert Ruiz Returns:

Over the weekend in PNC Park, Washington Nationals’ catcher Keibert Ruiz, took a 95 MPH fastball from Pittsburgh Pirates’ reliever Kyle Keller to the face, though it looked like it did catch a lot of the ear flap of his helmet, while definitely catching a good deal of jaw/cheek as well. They were taking no chances with him, of course, so the 23-year-old backstop left the game, and sat out of the series finale on Sunday (in a day game after a night game he likely wouldn’t have played in anyway), but manager Davey Martinez penciled him into the lineup for last night’s series opener with the Miami Marlins in the nation’s capital.

“He’s feeling good,” Martinez said in his pregame Zoom call with reporters. “He’s in the lineup today, so but he said he feels good. No headache today, so he’s going to play.

“He’s doing some work right now. So we’ll keep an eye on him, I want to know if he starts running around if he gets a headache, but he said he felt fine.”

New York Mets v Washington Nationals - Game One Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Martinez was asked if he went back and watched the hit-by-pitch, and thought about how much worse it could have been had the pitch hit him a few inches in any other direction?

”I saw it, man,” Martinez said. “It caught a good piece of his earpiece, but it — man, it was scary, I know that. I will say that [Pirates’ manager Derek] Shelton came over after the game, and I caught him, I talked to him, and he wanted to know how he was doing, and the Keller kid wanted to extend his apologies. And he thought it was awful and he’s really sorry for it, and I talked to Keibert and I told him that they came over to see how you were doing, and he said he wanted to talk to Keller himself and say, ‘Hey, no hard feelings. We’re good,’ you know, and I said, ‘Hey, just be appreciative, and thank God it didn’t hit you in the eye or something.’”

Ruiz also fouled a ball off his own knee recently, so the plan to bring him up and start him as much as possible down the stretch has taken a hit as well, but over the last few weeks, they still want to run him out there and get as many starts, reps, at-bats, etc. as they can for their catcher of the future.

“We hope that he can get out there now and play and his last — he had some good at bats in Pittsburgh, big hit for us, drove in three runs, so hopefully he continues to do that.”

Early in last night’s game, Keibert took a foul ball off his mask behind the plate, but he did stay in after a visit from the team’s trainer...

Mad Max:

Reaching 3,000 Ks for his career on Sunday wasn’t enough for Max Scherzer (“Typical Max,” Davey Martinez said). Scherzer, in his eighth start with the Dodgers after he was dealt to LA at the trade deadline, reached the strikeout milestone, tossed an immaculate inning, took a perfect game into the eighth, and as The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya noted in a write-up on the right-hander’s Sunday afternoon start, he also completed eight scoreless innings on the hill in Los Angeles to give the home team a sweep of the San Diego Padres.

Was his former manager watching the action as Scherzer made a bid for perfection with his new team?

“We watched it all the way till we got on the plane, and then we didn’t have any wifi, but we heard what happened at the end, but it was awesome.

Chicago Cubs v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

“Congratulations to Max, he got his 3,000, almost — typical Max, he wanted to do more, went into the eighth with a no-hitter, he gave up a hit, but he did well.”

Martinez said he was happy to have been a part of a nice stretch of Scherzer’s career, and the three-time Cy Young award-winner (who may be on the way to No. 4) reaching 3,000 strikeouts for his career was no surprise.

“For me, you knew it was going to happen, you know,” Martinez said, “... sooner or later, more sooner than later. He averages 10 strikeouts per game*, almost, but I’m glad he got it, and now he can continue to get his strikeouts and work on some other milestone.”

[ed. note - “* = Scherzer has 12.17 K/9 through 27 starts and 162 IP this season, don’t sell him short, Davey!”]

Rainey Return? What About Robles?:

Tanner Rainey has just two appearances in the majors since late June, but the Nationals and the reliever are still hoping he can get back up to the big leagues before the 2021 campaign ends.

It’s been an injury-plagued season for the right-handed reliever, but Davey Martinez said a while back that Rainey was determined to get back to the majors and end the year on the mound for the Nationals and it’s still a possibility with only a few weeks left.

“He’s progressing well,” Martinez said on Monday. “He’s going to continue to pitch until we get him to go back-to-back days. And once we do that we’ll figure out what we’re going to do next.”

“Honestly, I’d like to see him back with us and finish up here with us and finish up strong.”

Pittsburgh Pirates v Washington Nationals Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Why does the manager think it’s important for Rainey to get back up even if for only a short time?

“I think it’s important for him moving forward this winter,” Martinez explained, “knowing that he got back on the mound this year, and that he’s healthy, and then he can start his winter program as soon as possible.”

And what about Victor Robles, who was optioned to Triple-A at the end of August so he could play every day and attempt to sort things out at the plate after back-to-back runs which have produced subpar results the last two seasons? Will he come back up to end things on a positive note as well?

“Yeah, I mean, we’ll see. He’s working really hard on doing the things we asked him to do, and we’ll keep an eye on him as well, but we’ll see,” Martinez said. “I’d like to get him back here as well, but we’ll see how it goes.

“Those guys still got some games to play down there, so he’s going to help them play and we’ll see what happens after that.”