Josh Rogers’ Fanclub:
You might have noticed a sizable contingent of Josh Rogers fans in Great American Ball Park on Sunday, and that’s because the 27-year-old lefty grew up 1 hour and 55 minutes south of Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, OH in New Albany, Indiana, so family and friends in his hometown made the trip north to cheer him on as he started the Washington Nationals’ series finale with the Reds.
“I saw quite a bit of them this morning with Rogers jerseys on in the hotel,” Davey Martinez told reporters in his pregame Zoom call on Sunday morning, “so it will be exciting for him.
“It’s a good homecoming for him, he’s got a lot of people coming. So it’s going to be exciting.”
Martinez was asked if he was worried about the already fairly excitable southpaw being a bit too amped pitching in front of his relatives.
“That’s kind of an understatement,” he said of the description of Rogers as “amped”.
“He’s got tons of energy, but no, he loves that, and that’s who he is, so he is going to go out there and compete and be himself and I’m looking forward to watching him pitch again and compete.”
Rogers struggled on the mound, unfortunately, giving up seven hits, four walks, and three runs in 4 2⁄3 IP over which he battled to find his command, but the support he got from his fans in the stands caught everyone’s attention.
“Yeah, [Lance] Barksdale the third base umpire,” Rogers said after the game, “... he was like, “Man, are you from around here,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m from Louisville, Kentucky area,’ so to all my people from New Albany, who came up here, probably close to 300 people, so it was really a special day for all those people to kind of see me and special for me to hear — getting cheers on the road is awesome. So everybody from New Albany, it’s humbling and just a surreal feeling when you got the support from the people back at home. So I can’t say enough about them, they’ve supported me all the way through it and it’s been pretty cool to have them here.”
Jhon Romero’s Big Saturday Night:
Jhon Romero, the right-handed reliever the Nationals acquired from the Cubs in the July 31, 2018 trade that sent Brandon Kintzler to Chicago, got the call to the majors for the first time this past Thursday, after six seasons in the minors, three with the Nationals.
Before he got the call, the 26-year-old put up a combined 2.62 ERA in 38 games and 55 IP between Double-A Harrisburg (2.83 ERA in 47 2⁄3 IP) and Triple-A Rochester (1.23 ERA over 7 1⁄3 IP), with 11 walks and 69 Ks overall on the year.
Romero signed with the Cubbies out of Colombia as a 20-year-old in 2015, and he had Tommy John surgery in 2019, so he’s relatively inexperienced, in terms of the innings he hast thrown, so is Davey Martinez watching him closely as they give him a shot in the majors?
“The biggest thing is just keeping an eye on his workload,” Martinez said. “He had TJ, but he feels great, I talked to him a lot about his health, and he says he feels awesome, so we want to continue to build him up and keep him that way.
“Like I said, I liked what I saw yesterday. Talked to him after the game, and told him he did a great job, and we’re going to put him in situations similar to that.
“And he’ll have some innings where he comes in fresh and starts the inning, but I like what I see so far, like I said, he wants the ball, and I like that about him.”
In just his second big league appearance on Saturday night, the Nats’ skipper brought the right-hander in with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, and Romero got two quick outs on seven pitches to keep things tied at 5-5 in what ended up a 7-6 loss.
“This is something that I saw about him on video when I was watching him,” Martinez said after Saturday’s loss, “that he attacks the strike zone, he’s not afraid, he’s got some good pitches, got sink on his fastball, he’s got a good changeup, good slider, so you know, I thought it was a good spot for him to see if we could get a ground ball, and he jammed one hitter and got a ball back to him, not hard, and got out of a big jam.”
On Sunday morning, Martinez talked about Romero’s path to the majors, and the work that he did to get the opportunity.
As he’d explained previously, he remembered Romero from the time the two spent together with the Cubs.
“He was — for me, seeing a guy like that and seeing him in Chicago, he had some talent, it took him a while to get up here, but he worked hard to get up here and we saw something in him this year, and he did well, and like I said, I wanted to get him up here before the year ended to let him pitch some games for us and see him pitch in a big league environment.
“Yesterday was a big moment and he came in with the bases loaded and got two big outs, so that was awesome to see. He looked very poised, composed, he had a plan coming in, and he got two balls that weren’t hit hard at all and got big outs for us.”
Before he got the start in Sunday’s series finale in Cincinnati, Riley Adams, acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays in return for Brad Hand at the trade deadline, hadn’t started since a September 15th game against Miami in the nation’s capital.
With the Nationals trying to get a good look at 23-year-old catcher Keibert Ruiz (acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers at the deadline), and get Alex Avila behind the plate in his last few weeks before retirement, Adams, 25, has been the odd man out in recent days, in spite of the fact that he’d produced a .288/.420/.500 line with six doubles and two home runs in 31 games, 18 starts, and 81 plate appearances since joining the Nationals (before Sunday’s game).
“Yeah, I mean, like I said, we want to see Keibert get the bulk of the catching,” Martinez said when asked about finding starts for Adams down the stretch. “I want to catch Alex a couple times, I wanted him to catch [Patrick] Corbin, and I also want him to catch Josiah [Gray against the [Marlins], being that he was going to be in Miami [near Avila’s home in Hialeah FL], but that was big for me. But I told Riley I was going to get him some games before the year ends, he’s going to play today, but he’s been good, he’s been really working hard with [bullpen and catching coach] Henry [Blanco] on his catching, and working with K-Long [hitting coach Kevin Long] and Six [assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler] on his hitting, so he gets an opportunity to go out there and play today. The other day he came in and pinch hit and worked a really good at-bat and got a walk. He took some really close pitches, but we know that about him, he’s got a good eye as well up there and we like that about him, so he’s going to get an opportunity and I’m going to evaluate him and see how he does.”
Martinez and Co. with the Nationals did get a chance to see Adams in action before Ruiz got called up, so did they see enough to know what they have going forward?
“Yeah, I mean, I really believe — I mean, he’s going to get an opportunity to play, play quite a bit,” the manager said. “As you know, this day and age, a catcher that catches every day, they need days off. So next year coming to Spring Training, [Adams] needs to be ready, he’s going to get a lot of opportunity to catch in Spring Training and then we’ll see where he’s at.”