Carter Kieboom’s 1 for 12 series against the Colorado Rockies and 2 for 23 homestand left him with a .179/.236/.194 line, one double, five walks, and 19 strikeouts in 17 games and 72 plate appearances in September, after a .250/.348/.469, three double, six homer, 12 walk, 29 K month of August, over 27 games and 112 PAs.
“I watched some of his at bats,” Davey Martinez said, before the start of a three-game series with the Miami Marlins in loanDepot park last night, after the Nationals dropped 2 of their 3 games in Washington, D.C. against their NL East rivals before the series with the Rockies.
“I think we have to get him to slow his feet down a little bit,” Martinez added, suggesting a potential fix for the 2016 1st Round pick at the plate. “He’s starting to get a little bit long with his swing so I think we just need to slow his feet down a little bit, and get him back towards the middle of the field. He was hitting the ball really hard there for a while, we just got to get him back zoned in in the middle of the field, and shorten his stride, and his feet are moving way too fast, we got to get him to slow down a little bit.”
Overall, however, Martinez said he’s excited about what Kieboom has been able to do, but there’s still a lot of work ahead.
“He still has room to grow in all aspects of the game, but he’s definitely gotten better, especially at third base,” the manager said. “I’m seeing him move his feet a little bit better, he’s working diligently on coming in and getting balls, which he struggled with. He’s made some nice plays doing that. Overall, he knows he’s got a lot of work to do, but he has gotten better. The biggest thing right now is he was swinging the bat really well, and now he got a little long, his stride is a little bit bigger than what it was before. So we just got to slow his feet down a little bit.”
Bell of the Ball:
Josh Bell came into the three-game series in Miami on a nice run, with a .330/.455/.615 line, five doubles, seven home runs, 18 RBIs, 21 walks, just 12 Ks, and 11 runs scored in his last 25 games and 112 plate appearances.
“Bell is swinging the bat well,” Martinez rhymed, “he’s taking his walks as well, which is awesome, and he’s only going to get better, and I told him that.
“I said this before, from where he started to where he is now, it’s been unbelievable.
“I mean, for me, he’s been one of the best consistent players in the league, and his numbers show that right now. His OPS is over .800, which is amazing from where he started.”
Where he started, was with a .156/.219/.333 line through May 15th, after he started the year late following a stint on the COVID-IL and struggled out of the gate in his first season with the Nationals after a trade from the Pittsburgh Pirates this past winter. Since the middle of May, however, Bell’s put up a .287/.370/.531 line with 16 doubles, 23 HRs, 48 walks, and 61 Ks in 105 games and 405 PAs.
“It’s not easy,” Martinez said of turning a season around. “The numbers are there. You try not to focus on them, and I tried to engage with him, especially early, about ‘Don’t worry about where you’re at now, let’s worry about where you finish, and I believe that you’re going to finish very strong. And just keep pushing every day. Every at-bat is different, every day, so just keep pushing every day, work good at bats, and by the end of the year, you’ll have your .260/.270, 30 [HRs], and 80 or 90 RBIs, maybe more, and don’t worry about it.’
“And he actually started playing and not really focusing on the numbers.”
The difference in the last month-plus, as he’s taken it to another level?
“It’s just putting the ball in play,” Martinez said. “It’s something I know I mention to you guys all the time, I’m not a big fan of the strikeouts, and these guys know that, it’s emphasized. I know K-Long [Hitting Coach Kevin Long] talks about it all the time, Six [Assistant Hitting Coach Pat Roessler] talks about it all the time, and I talk about it all the time with them. Move the baseball. That’s all I ask. Especially with two strikes. It’s a tough spot to hit in, but just put the ball in play and good things can happen, and our whole team as a group has done that really well. And Josh has done it well as well. And I like that. Things happen when you move the baseball.”
Another Shot At The Zimmerman ?:
We gave it a shot last week, before Ryan Zimmerman himself said it would be a decision he makes this winter, probably around when he’d have to start working out, around December 1st, but a reporter checked in with Davey Martinez again on Monday to see if he’d heard any more from the soon-to-turn, 37-year-old, 16-year veteran about his plans beyond 2021.
Zimmerman, of course, is playing out a 1-year/$1.5M deal, after opting out of playing in the 60-game COVID campaign last season, and what the future holds is a big question in these last few weeks of the 2020 campaign.
“Honestly, it all depends on Zim,” Martinez said after he penciled Zimmerman in as his first baseman for the first of three in Miami on Monday.
“My biggest goal was to keep him healthy. Knock on wood. So far, so good.
“It’s just based on conversation with him and how he feels. Obviously, today we’ve got a lefty. Tomorrow we’ve got a lefty. So we’ll see how he feels.
“But once again, here’s another guy who he accepted his role, which was a lot different than what he’s used to, and has done really, really well doing it.
“I don’t know what his plans are, he’s been very quiet about it. He tells me every day he’s going to take it day-by-day, and so we’ll talk more about it probably when the season ends, but he’s been great. And if I can play him, as you know, I’ll play him, but if not, then he’s been doing a great job coming off the bench and getting us those big hits.”