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Washington Nationals vs Miami Marlins: 2022 Grapefruit League opener GameThread

Baseball is back ⚾️ on the radio for now. Game Time: 6:05 PM; Follow: nationals.com

MLB: Washington Nationals at Houston Astros Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

Though there are limited games to play this spring, and a quick ramp-up to the start of the 2022 regular season following the 99-day lockout before MLB and the MLBPA agreed on a new CBA, Washington Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez told reporters all week his team showed up ready to go with six days to prepare for their first Grapefruit League game.

He didn’t seem concerned about finding the at-bats his team will need to get ready for the 162-game grind of a season to come.

“The good thing is the minor leagues have started playing games as well, so we can always plop guys down and get some at-bats down there if need be,” Martinez explained as he got ready for tonight’s live action in West Palm Beach, FL.

“The days off are definitely going to work out. We’ll definitely have some of our guys play in some of those games, especially some of our pitchers that need to throw, but we’ll send some hitters down there to get some at bats, so we should be — you know, the way we mapped things out, our players should be around 35-40-50 at bats by the end of this, and I think that’s a good number. When you get up to 60-70 at-bats, I don’t think you need that many, I think these guys are ramped up and ready to go.”

With the free agent free-for-all following the agreement on a new CBA, and rosters shaping up quickly around the league, Martinez hadn’t settled on a lineup for Game 1 as of Thursday afternoon, but he said the players who would take the field tonight came to camp ready for action and set to go from the jump.

“I said this today, Martinez told reporters, “we went around the last couple days just to see where everybody was at — you’ll see our lineup tomorrow — the guys that are playing, these guys are itching to play, and they’re ready, so that kind of excites me a little bit that Day 1 we got a pretty good lineup going out there to play the game.”

Who’s in that lineup?:

Nelson Cruz, who signed a 1-year/$15M free agent deal this week to serve as the designated hitter in D.C. now that the DH is universal in Major League Baseball, is not in the lineup tonight, but the Nats’ skipper said yesterday that the 41-year-old slugger arrived in good shape, as usual, and will be out there soon enough.

Where does the manager plan on hitting the veteran DH in the middle of the lineup when he is ready to get some at-bats? He’s not sure, or at least not saying, so far.

“We’re going to sit down and look at how this is all going to transpire. You talk about [Juan] Soto, you talk about Cruz, for me, the guy that to me who this is really going to benefit and help too, is Josh Bell. I mean, all of a sudden you put Josh Bell with these two guys, I think he’s going to get better. I really [do]. Like I said, [Cruz] came to this Spring Training in such good shape and ready, and he looks great, so having those three guys in the middle of our lineup, it’s going to be fun to watch.”

It should be fun to at least listen to some baseball tonight. The matchup with the Marlins in the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches is available on the radio via nationals.com, so it’s official time to say baseball is back, even it’s just Grapefruit League baseball. We’ll take it...

It’s on at 6:05 PM ET from WPB tonight. Radio only via MLB or Nationals.com... Enjoy.