Gang Aft A-Gley:
Josh Bell went for another MRI (his second in a week) after tweaking his right hamstring in the Nationals’ loss to the San Francisco Giants on Saturday in Washington, D.C., but it was clean, apparently, (as the MRI on his left knee was earlier in the week), and as Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez explained before Sunday’s game, he just wanted to give the first baseman two days off to recover with an off-day on Monday as well providing extra time to rest up and recover.
“He’s going to — we’re going to try to get him to run a little bit today and see how he feels,” Martinez told reporters before the series finale with the Giants in Nationals Park, “... so it’s not as bad — the MRI came back and it was pretty clean, so we’re going to try to get him out there before the game and do a little running, see how he is. I’m not going to play him today, so he has today and tomorrow off and then we’ll see how he feels on Tuesday.”
Considering the club was already working with a short bench with pitching a priority early following the short Spring Training this year, Martinez was asked if their club considered a possible call-up to bolster the bench, and he said they did, but decided against it.
“We actually, we did think about bringing somebody else, but after talking to Bell yesterday, we feel like if he’s even eligible to pinch hit,” Martinez explained, “... which I think he will be, we can use him to pinch hit later in the game, so right now we’re just going to hold off and see how he feels.”
With Bell unavailable, Maikel Franco moved over from third to first base, and Lucius Fox got the start at third base, though he didn’t last long in the game, vomiting on the infield just a couple pitches into the game and leaving at that point...
Martinez said after the game that Fox was feeling better and Bell, hopefully will be able to get back on the field on Tuesday, for the series opener with the Miami Marlins in D.C.
“[Fox is] getting treatment, he got looked at by a doctor,” Martinez said. “He’s a little bit dehydrated right now, but he feels a lot better.”
And we can apparently add Victor Robles to the list of banged up Nationals, with Martinez saying he tried to stay away from the outfielder on Sunday since he had a groin issue.
“Nothing bad,” Martinez said. “He just cramped up yesterday, so I wanted to give him today and tomorrow off.”
“Hopefully Tuesday these guys are better and Josh Bell will be back in the lineup and Robles will be back in the lineup,” he continued, “so we’ll have some extra players. This will probably all change here too in the next couple weeks, as soon as we’ve got do something with the rosters, they’re going to shorten the rosters, so we’ll figure out what to do next.”
Ready or Not, Riley!:
Riley Adams has been working at first base since the Nationals acquired the catcher at last July 30th’s trade deadline, with the hope of getting him up to speed at the position in case of an emergency.
Luckily, “Playing first base isn’t that hard, tell ‘em Wash.”
Wash: “It’s incredibly hard.”
But before yesterday’s game, Davey Martinez said that Adams wasn’t quite ready where he’d throw him out there in anything but an emergency.
“In an emergency, yes,” he could play there, Martinez said.
“I talked to [third base coach Gary] DiSarcina and [bench coach Tim Bogar],” who work with the infielders in addition to their main duties/jobs, “... and they still want some more time to work with him, so he’s going to work over there just in case something does happen.”
The manager was asked if getting Adams game-ready at first base was a priority now with Bell banged up?
“Yes,” Martinez said. “I mean — and he has been working over there, we just want to get him comfortable around the base. He fields ground balls good, there’s a lot of footwork involved around the base, so I know they’re going to work with him on that.”
At some point, the skipper acknowledged, only game action will give you a real idea of the progress he’s made.
“You can kind of imitate the game by hitting him hard ground balls, soft ground balls, taking balls on the base,” he said, “coming off the base, throwing to second, but when you’re in the game, things tend to speed up, but all we can do is work with him unless we send him out. His primary position is catching, and he’s doing well catching, so it’s nice to be able to have him play first base in case of emergency.”
Of course, a few hours later, Lucius Fox got sick on the field, vomiting behind the mound, and had to leave the game, so Maikel Franco moved back over to third, and Adams had to take over at first base in the emergency situation he was preparing for all this time.
“He did well,” Martinez said of Adams’ work after the game. “He did really well. We talked about it after the game too that he handled himself really well. He had one ball where he had to get it and toss it to the pitcher, and at first we thought, ‘Oh boy.’
“We thought he was going to throw it overhand, and he did exactly what he was supposed to, close the gap, run, and toss it to the pitcher ahead of him, so he did great.”
Power of Positivity:
Davey Martinez is relentlessly positive, which is firmly established five years into his time on the bench in the nation’s capital. Slow starts are also a thing for his teams.
It worked out for him and the Nationals in 2019. But that team was ... different? Is that the word?
But anyway, a reporter asked him if there is any sort of similar, “Wait till we get healthy,” vibe behind the scenes/in the clubhouse this time?
“We still got some guys that we hope to get back here soon,” Martinez said, “... especially in our starting pitching, we got two guys that are working to come back. We get them back — especially with our younger guys — look, this team is definitely — we got a lot of young guys, and we got two starting pitchers right now learning a lot in a short period of time, and I really believe that they’re doing well and they’re going to get better, but we add a veteran guy in [Stephen] Strasburg, we add [Joe] Ross back, and things will get interesting. You know.
“I know we’re only 17 games in, or whatever it is, 16 games, but we got to keep playing, we’ve got to play hard. Our offense will come around, I know it will, the middle of the offense will start hitting. We’re playing good defense, our bullpen has been really good, which I like a lot, they’re throwing the ball well, and I think a lot has to do with — nobody gives Ricky Bones credit, but he’s done well with them so far and is getting them ready and prepared for when they come into games, and that’s important. So, you know, I think we’ll start really — I’m seeing some good things. Right now we’re struggling getting the wins, but I am seeing some good things throughout the game, so the biggest thing as I said this morning to my coaching staff is, ‘Stay positive, and stick to the process and we’ll start winning some games, and we will have some help coming later on this year, and hopefully sooner than later.”