Don’t look now, but Victor Robles, who started the season 0 for 18 with a walk and seven Ks in eight games, six starts, and 21 plate appearances, has a three-game hit streak going after he went 1 for 4 with an RBI in the series finale in PNC Park on Sunday and 2 for 6 with his first extra base hit of the year (an RBI double) with a hit in each game of the Nationals’ sweep of the doubleheader with the D-backs in D.C. on Tuesday.
Robles, 24, has been hard at work all spring to try to sort things out at the plate after he struggled on the offensive end in each of the past two seasons. He finished the 2021 campaign at Triple-A Rochester in Washington’s system after he failed to make necessary adjustments to help him turn things around with the bat.
Tough as the past few seasons have been for the outfielder, his manager, Davey Martinez, said before the first of two with Arizona in D.C. on Tuesday Robles has had a great attitude and work ethic as the club’s tweaked his swing mechanics and tried to find a fix.
“He’s been awesome, he really has,” the fifth-year skipper said. “Through this whole process, and it’s a change — it’s a big change for him, because he’s always hit with his hands lower, but we’re taking it step-by-step. We’ve got his hands up now, and we’re going to start talking about his lower half a little bit. But he’s been great, and I have told him, ‘Hey, there’s going to be days where I don’t want you to play, you know, but you might have to play, you might have to come in and play defense, you might have to ... but we want to get you right, and I really believe that he’s trending in the right direction.”
Having a productive Robles in the lineup and out in center field, where he continues to play solid defense, is the ideal outcome for the Nationals, and they have expended a significant amount of energy in getting Robles, as they’ve put it, back to where he was in 2019, when he played center in 155 regular season games on the club’s World Series championship roster.
Seeing positive results of all the work he has put in, Martinez said, will, of course, reinforce what the club has stressed as they’ve tried to build Robles back up.
“100%,” Martinez said. “And he feels it, and he feels good, and I have to reiterate, it’s because of what you’re doing every day, that’s giving you an opportunity to put up good at-bats, and I said, ‘Every now and then you’re going to drive the ball, you’re going to get your hits.’ I told him, ‘Remember, the best hitters in this game, they’re out 7 or 8 times [out of ten]. So just remember that, and he does, and he focuses on every pitch of every at-bat. He laid off some good pitches today, that [hitting coach Darnell] Darnell and I were talking about. Before we thought he would chase those balls. He laid off them today, which was nice.”
Throughout this process, Martinez said, he’s learned a lot about what kind of a player and person Robles is, and Robles’s teammates have noticed the work he’s put in, and are pulling for the outfielder to get where he wants to be.
“For me, he’s ready every day, and he wants to play hard,” Martinez explained. “He’s not selfish at all. He’s the most unselfish kid I know, and he wants to help his team. That’s all he worries about. Helping his team win, and today he got us going, and he uplifted the guys, and all those guys — man, Juan Soto, man, every time [Robles is] up there [Soto is] pulling for him, Nellie Cruz, all those guys, Cèsar [Hernàndez], [Alcides] Escobar, they all want him to succeed and do well.”
Robles is back in center tonight, looking for a four-game hit streak as the team tries for a third straight win.
HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR TONIGHT’S GAME WITH THE D-BACKS: