Lucius Fox’s 0 for 3 game on Saturday afternoon, after he came on as a replacement for an injured Josh Bell, left the Washington Nationals’ 24-year-old utility man 0 for 14 over his first six games played with the club since they selected him off waivers from Baltimore’s Orioles, who’d selected him off waivers from the Kansas City Royals eleven days earlier this winter.
Signed by the San Francisco Giants out of Nassau in the Bahamas (via Heritage High School in Florida) for a $6M bonus in 2015, Fox was then traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2016, and subsequently dealt to the Kansas City Royals in 2020, before he was claimed by the O’s and then the Nationals.
Fox made his MLB debut and his first career start back on August 10th, going 0 for 3 with a run-scoring bunt, and after going 0 for 3 in Saturday’s game, he was still hitless on the year, which is a spot the infielder’s manager said plenty of players have been in before, waiting to connect for the first knock of his/their career(s) while the pressure builds.
“There’s been a lot of guys who have been there, and we told him that, and we just say, hey, keep battling,” Davey Martinez told reporters after the Nationals’ 5-2 loss to the Giants in the second of three in D.C. this past weekend.
“I thought he worked really good at-bats today, which was nice,” the manager said.
“Before he was up here, and he was chasing a lot, swinging at a lot of first pitches. I think he’s starting to understand that he’s got to see some pitches and be ready to hit the ball that’s in the strike zone. I thought today’s at-bats were good. He fouled some balls off and stayed on them which I like a lot, and I just tell him, ‘Hey, you’re going to get a hit, it’s a matter of time, don’t chase it, just have good at-bats.’ He smoked that ball to second base, so I said — but you can see what he does on the field as well. He’s a good athlete, he plays good defense, he can play all over the field, and he switch hits, so we’ve just got to get him to relax. He gets anxious up there, you know, which all of us did at one point when we were young, but it will come. I told him, ‘Your first hit will come, so just keep playing hard.’”
Primarily a shortstop in the minors, Fox played second, third, and the outfield as well, but he got a start at third base for the first time in the majors on Sunday, after playing the position twice as a sub. What did his manager want to see from him at the hot corner?
“For us, one, it’s his footwork, and just catch the balls,” Martinez said. “The biggest thing with him was the throwing, the throwing is a little bit different over there than it is in the middle of the infield. He’s worked really hard on that, and as you could see yesterday, he’s comfortable playing over there. He made an unbelievable play yesterday over there, and he feels comfortable — actually he made two good plays, one a fly ball and one a one-hopper, but he feels comfortable over there, which is nice. The big thing now is some of the bunt plays and stuff like that that he has to be conscious of, and we have to watch him and kind of direct him what to do and where to be because he’s still not used to that yet.”
Martinez also talked at length about the energy and focus Fox brings to the club, and said he hoped that he’d get that first hit out of the way sooner than later.
“The hitting will come for him,” the manager said.
“And the elusive hit for him right now will happen eventually, so I just say, ‘Keep playing hard. That’s all you can do is keep playing hard.”
Unfortunately, Sunday wasn’t the day for Fox’s first hit. Though he did start at third, a few pitches into the top of the first, he became ill on the field, vomiting behind the mound to the point where the trainer came out and he was forced to leave the game.
“He’s getting treatment, he got looked at by a doctor. He’s a little bit dehydrated right now, but he feels a lot better,” Martinez said after the game.
“Apparently he had a bit of a stomach flu, I guess it’s going around, but they gave him fluids before the game, he was good, he said he was good, he did everything, and as you can see it wasn’t good.”