Stras and Ross:
Before manager Davey Martinez talked to reporters on Wednesday afternoon about a pair of rehabbing starters, Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked to The Sports Junkies on 106.7 the FAN in D.C. about the progress the right-handers have made in their respective rehab programs as both work to get back to the big league rotation in D.C.
“Actually,” Rizzo told the Junkies, “they both have their second bullpen coming up in the next day or so down in [West Palm Beach,] Florida. I think the last one was 25-27 pitches, so they’re going to be stretched out in their next bullpen, then if that goes well, then they’ll have live batting practices and they’ll obviously have to go on some rehab starts to build up their pitch counts and their arm strength and then hopefully in the near-future we’ll see both of those guys.”
Adding healthy arms like Strasburg and Ross’s to the rotation would of course be a boost, but both have struggled with injury issues the past few seasons, and the club wants them ready to go and hopefully remain in the rotation all year before they’re called back up.
By the time Martinez spoke to reporters a few hours earlier, in advance of the second of three with the Miami Marlins in the nation’s capital, both of the starters had thrown their second bullpen sessions in WPB.
“Stephen threw 37 pitches, I think Ross threw 46 or 44, something like that,” Martinez said.
“Both felt good after they threw, so the next plan would be again to get them out there, and I’m going to say that they’re going to face live hitters ... so we’ll see how that goes, but they both said they felt good after their bullpen.”
Quick Carter Kieboom Update:
Rizzo was actually asked for updates on Joe Ross and Carter Kieboom in his weekly visit with the Sports Junkies, and after talking about Ross and Strasburg he circled back and provided an update on Kieboom, who had a flexor mass strain in his right elbow derail a season the club was hoping would be a big one for the 2016 1st Round pick who’s so far struggled at the big league level.
Sounds like it might be a while before we see the 24-year-old infielder back in the majors.
“Kieboom is just beginning his throwing program now,” Rizzo said.
“So he’s starting to progress with the elbow injury he had, and we’ll see how long it takes for him to get his arm stretched out — with the arm strength and that type of thing to go on his rehab assignment.”
Hernández Handling Offspeed Stuff:
Yadiel Hernández hit a 1-0 changeup down in the zone from Giants’ starter Logan Webb out to left-center in Nationals Park on Sunday, and his one hit in Tuesday’s opener with Miami’s Marlins came on changeup from right-hander Sandy Alcantara that Hernández hit right over the mound for an RBI single and the only run the visiting starter allowed in six strong.
Hernandez finished that game with a .429 AVG on fastballs early this season, a .273 AVG on changeups, a .286 AVG on sliders, and a .143 AVG on sinkers, the four pitches he’s seen the most in the first month of the 2022 campaign.
His manager, Davey Martinez, told reporters after penciling Hernández in for another start in left, that the 33-year-old has been working hard on hitting offspeed pitches, since he always hits those fastballs pretty well.
What are they working on with Hernández to help him improve against offspeed pitches?
“Just having him get ready a little bit earlier, and recognize pitches earlier,” Martinez said.
“He’s really good at hitting fastballs. If he can start staying on some of the breaking balls and changeups, and for me he’s got such a natural swing, he hits the ball the other way really well, that he doesn’t have to try to create — like he thinks when they throw him breaking balls it’s a chance for him to pull the ball. Not necessarily. You can still hit the ball, stay up the middle of the field and hit the ball the other way fairly hard, so yesterday he took a ball and he smoked it up the middle, and that was good to see, but it’s mainly about getting him ready so he can recognize pitches a little quicker.”
In his second trip to the plate against Marlins’ starter Pablo López last night, Hernández hit a 1-1 changeup outside down the left field line for an opposite field single...
Good Sign For Juan Soto:
Speaking of pretty left-handed swings: Juan Soto walked twice, (for an MLB-best 18 after Tuesday’s game) and went 1 for 2 with a real hard-hit (107.1 MPH) double to center field in the series opener with the Marlins, and Soto’s manager talked before the 2nd of 3 versus the Fish in D.C., about the hit being a good sign for the 23-year-old slugger, who had, “... reached base safely in nine of his last 12 games and in 15 of 19 games this season,” going into the matchup with the Marlins, as the Nationals highlighted in their pregame notes.
“He’s been working really hard staying on those balls, not trying to pull the balls middle-in,” Martinez said.
“Perfect example, he stayed through the ball really well there, and was able to hit it off the wall to center field. A few days ago those balls right there were trying to be overly quick to it, and it was a roll-over. We’ve seen a lot of those go to first base, so that’s definitely an improvement, that’s definitely where we want him to be and he understands that, so it was good to see him take that ball and hit it the way it did, and hopefully we’ll get some consistency out of him doing that. He doesn’t need to worry about pulling the ball. He’s so quick inside that he just needs to stay through the baseball.”