Tim Bogar’s Time To Shine:
On what was supposed to be an off day for the Nationals, before Wednesday night’s series finale with the Phillies in Washington, D.C. was postponed a day by the inclement weather which hit the nation’s capital, (and hammered most of the northeast), Davey Martinez had a minor foot surgery scheduled, so he kept the appointment, and sent his bench coach Tim Bogar out to manage the club.
But not before Bogar also filled in for the fourth-year skipper on his daily pregame Zoom call with reporters.
How does one plan for this sort of thing? As Bogar explained, it’s something that you have to consider before each and every game.
“I think we plan for it every day,” he said. “Every day that we prepare for a game I’m ready to help Davey any way I can, then if something happens during the game, and he gets thrown out I have to manage anyway, so it’s — this is an easy transition for us and hopefully it’s just one day and Davey is back.”
Speaking Of People Being Back:
Alcides Escobar fouled a ball off his left kneecap in Monday night’s series opener with the Phillies in Nationals Park, and missed Tuesday’s game, but with an extra day of rest the 34-year-old infielder was able to get back in the lineup for the finale of the three-game set in the nation’s capital on Thursday.
“He just — he fouled the ball off his knee and he wasn’t feeling very good for a couple days,” Bogar said, “and I actually just talked to him a couple minutes ago, he’s feeling really good, we’ll pay attention to see how he’s doing, but as of right now he’s 100% cleared to play, and got no worries about him. He’s ready to go.”
Also back on the active roster now is Alex Avila, the 34-year-old backstop who went on the IL back in early July with bilateral calf strains, then missed time as one of the players who went on the COVID-IL in late July.
Avila returns to a much different team, though he was helping out behind the scenes as he rehabbed from the injuries which kept him out of the lineup. But with top prospect Keibert Ruiz up and expected to get the bulk of the playing time, and Riley Adams backing Ruiz up, the veteran catcher might not get too many starts over the last month-plus.
“Avila is a veteran catcher that I think he’s been nothing but a bonus for these young kids,” Bogar said.
“And being able to talk to them and teach them some things, and I’m sure Davey is going to try to find a spot or two for him to get in there and start a game.
“For the most part the young kids are probably going to play, and Alex knows that he’s here to help them, and he’s also to be here to take care of some things with those guys. Maybe teach them some things and help them understand how to run a bullpen and how to run the pitching staff and things like that, but Alex will be back out there, he’ll get his chances out there.”
Avila and left-handed pitcher Alberto Baldonado were added to the roster when the rosters expanded on September 1st. Baldonado, 28, posted a combined 2.88 ERA, nine walks (1.99 BB/9), and 47 Ks (10.40 K/9) in 34 games and 40 2⁄3 IP between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Rochester in the Nationals’ system after signing with the organization this winter.
Bogar admitted that he didn’t know a whole lot about the lefty, who’d be making his debut in the majors the first time he gets in a game, after eleven seasons in the minors with both the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs.
“I don’t know much about him — obviously I know that he’s got a pretty good fastball,” the fill-in skipper said, “... throws a curveball and a slider and a little bit of a changeup, but he attacks hitters well. He goes after them. He’s done well in Triple-A. He’s struck out over 10 K/9, he’s only walked — I think it’s a little over 2.0 BB/9, so he throws strikes and gets after people, so looking forward to seeing him, we’ll see if we can get him to face Bryce [Harper] today, who knows.”
What sort of role do the Nationals envision for the southpaw? “I think he can go multiple innings,” Bogar suggested. “But I think right now we’ll just kind of see how that goes, and once we get a better feel for him here I think [pitching coach] Jim Hickey and Davey will have a better idea of how they’re going to use him.”
Baldonado got into Thursday’s game in the seventh inning, with the Nationals ahead 6-3 at that point, and he tossed a scoreless, 21-pitch inning, striking out two (including Harper) in a quick major league debut.
“It’s his first day here,” Bogar said after the game, “but like we talked about earlier, with how our bullpen shapes up, I wanted to put him in there in the best position possible for him to succeed and for us to get outs, and it actually set up really well for him right there to face the guys that he faced, and he was just told to just be ready, just like everybody else in this bullpen. I don’t think we have defined roles.
“I think it’s where they fit in the best, and obviously he came in in that situation and did a great job.”