Lane Thomas led off on Saturday, after he’d hit mostly 6th or 7th in the Nationals’ lineup over the first few weeks of the 2022 campaign, and Washington skipper Davey Martinez moved César Hernández, who’d led off in each of the 16 games he’d played in early this season, to sixth.
“I just wanted to see if we could jumpstart Lane a little bit,” Martinez said when asked about the moves after the club’s 5-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants. “[Thomas] did well for us in the leadoff spot [in 2021], and also too when I talked to César last night [we talked] about letting him relax a little bit and not trying to put so much pressure on him trying to get on base, and just swing the bat. And he did well today, they both did well, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow. I know we got a right-handed pitcher against us, I’m going to look at everything tonight, and then make a decision how we’re going to do that tomorrow.”
Hernández’s 2 for 4 game left him 17 for 73 (.233/.263/.274) so fat this season. Thomas went 1 for 4 with an RBI in the loss, leaving him 9 for 46 (.196/.255/.261) on the year.
Was the experiment on one-time thing, or a change Martinez will stick with for a while to try something new to spark Thomas, Hernández, and the lineup as a whole?
“We might do that,” he said. “Look, Lane hits left-handed pitchers really well, so it was nice to get him up there against the lefties and see if we can get two cracks at them, so I liked it. He hit a couple balls hard today so we’ll see what happens moving forward.”
Thomas’s hit, at the top of the order, was the only one for the Nationals’ first four+ hitters.
Thomas, Juan Soto, Nelson Cruz, and Josh Bell (who was injured and replaced by Lucius Fox early in the game) were a combined 1 for 15 in the loss. How do they turn it around?
“I think we need to just start relaxing ... stay up the middle of the field. These guys are going to hit,” Martinez said. “These guys have hit their whole career, they’re going to hit, just don’t try to do too much, stay in the zone, and take your walks. I preach all the time, ‘Hey, take your walks, get on base for the next guy. Don’t chase.’ So, but I got all the confidence in the world that those guys will hit. If we continue to do what we’re doing in the bottom part of our lineup, we’re getting on base, I like that, so it’s just a matter of time before the whole lineup starts clicking, and we start scoring runs again.”
As for Bell’s injury?
“He’s got right hamstring tightness, so we took him out,” the manager explained.
“He went to get an MRI and we’re waiting for him to get back with the results. I wanted to be cautious. With the other leg, with his knee.”
Bell is not in the lineup today. Maikel Franco is getting the start at first...