Washington Nationals’ catcher Riley Adams, in just his third start in 11 games this season, and his seventh plate appearance of 2022, after he went 0 for 6 in the first two games, singled to left on a 1-1 curve from Pittsburgh Pirates’ lefty Josè Quintana to drive in a run and make it a 1-0 game early in what ended up a 5-3 loss in the series finale in PNC Park.
Victor Robles, who stepped to the plate 0 for 18 early this season, fouled a pitch off, then spit on three straight changeups out of the zone from Quintana before lining a sinker over the middle through the left side of the infield for a two-run single and a 3-0 lead.
Robles spent the first two days of the Nationals’ stay in the Steel City working on his swing behind the scenes with hitting coach Darnell Coles as the club tries to build confidence and make the tweaks they’ve made to the outfielder’s swing habits after two sub-par seasons for the 24-year-old outfielder.
“We’ve been working with Victor,” Nats’ manager Davey Martinez explained on Friday. “And he’s been coming in early to hit, and I wanted to give him these two days to work with [Hitting Coach] Darnell [Coles]. He’s been swinging a lot, and we talked to him today, and he swung the bat really well today in early BP, so I told him, I said, ‘Be ready to play today if we need you ... but tomorrow, you’ll play, and you’ll play for the next two days — and then we’ll see where he’s at.”
Robles went 0 for 2 with a walk and a K (on some questionable called strikes) in Saturday’s loss, but Martinez said he did like some of what he saw.
“He’s staying on top of the baseball, which is good, and I told him, ‘As long as you’re hitting balls like that, they’ll start falling, don’t,’ — I don’t want him to get upset, just keep getting ready to hit and stay on top of the baseball, and those will come.”
Martinez was happy to see both his catcher and center fielder on Sunday come up with big hits even if the Nationals didn’t win in the end.
“Victor [Robles] swung the bat well, a couple RBIs, Riley hit the ball well,” he said.
“They both swung the bat well. Between the both of them they drove in all three runs, and that was gratifying. They’ve been working hard. Especially Robles with his swing, so it was good to see. And I thought he worked a really good at-bat, I thought he got a couple pitches at the end — they were not strikes, they were off the plate, so I told him I said, ‘Hey, just stay right there, but the swing is coming.”
Adams went 1 for 2 with a walk and hit-by-pitch in the loss, and before the game, Martinez talked about how the 25-year-old catcher is adjusting to part-time work as the clear No. 2 behind Keibert Ruiz as planned by the club coming into the season.
“He understands the situation right now with Ruiz getting most of the time,” the fifth-year skipper said. “We’re going to try to get him in there, but he just has to keep himself ready. He catches bullpens, he hits quite a bit, we brought him out here the other day early to get some extra swings in, so it’s life as a backup catcher right now. Even though he’s young, he’s got to understand his role until we feel like either something happens or he starts playing a little bit more. But he’s got to understand that No. 1 for him is handling the pitching staff, and that’s what he’s got to do first and foremost, and the hitting stuff will come after that.
“But like I tell everybody else, hey, just try to do one thing to help us win every day when you’re in there, and to me, that’s a successful day, so just go out there and have fun.”