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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Alcides Escobar getting a break; Tanner Rainey & Kyle Finnegan getting work + more...

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability on Thursday afternoon...

Alcides Out Again:

Alcides Escobar was 2 for 25 (.080/.148/.080) with two walks and six Ks in seven games and 27 plate appearances on the Nationals’ homestand before he sat out of the last two of three with the Miami Marlins in D.C.

Davey Martinez explained before the series finale with the Fish he wanted Escobar to take a breath, and work on his swing, after going 7 for 57 (.123/.194/.140) with a double, four walks, and 17 Ks in 17 games and 62 PAs.

San Francisco Giants v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

“I talked to him the other day, I wanted to give him a couple days off. He’s been working on some stuff hitting-wise, and just kind of get him to regroup a little bit, but he’s good, he’ll be back in there, I just wanted to give him — and I wanted to give [Lucius Fox] a chance to hit a right-hander too. He’s been hitting left-handers, but I wanted to get him in, hit him right-handed. He’s been swinging the bat good in BP right-handed, so give him a chance to go out there and play two days in a row.”

The focus for Escobar as he works, Martinez said, is simple.

“Just staying above the baseball, getting ready on time, yeah.”

Relievers Finding Work:

With the Nationals as a team struggling to score runs and losing games at an alarming pace early this season, Davey Martinez has struggled to find spots for his A-pen relievers to get in the game, but he said he’s spoken to relievers Kyle Finnegan and Tanner Rainey about trying to get work where they can and stay sharp while they wait for late-game opportunities to be on the mound with leads.

“I talked to [Rainey] and Finnegan both about their usage and playing,” Martinez said, “and Tanner especially, Tanner has always come up to me and says he can’t sit four or five days without getting on the mound, so that’s something that we’re very conscious of. I think Finnegan, he doesn’t have to pitch quite [as] often, but he likes to pitch. So getting those guys in yesterday was kind of good, and like I said, Rainey just needs to go out there, and he says, ‘I just don’t have no feel when I’m sitting five or six days,’ so we got to make sure that we get him out there even if it’s not a save situation. And there’s days too where I told Finnegan and Rainey both, the matchups for me — I told Rainey the other day, ‘Hey, we might need you in the eighth inning, because the matchup is — that’s where we need you to pitch,’ and he said, ‘I’m ready for whenever you need me, whether it’s seventh, eighth, ninth, whatever,’ and Finnegan is the same way.”

Arizona Diamondbacks v Washington Nationals - Game Two Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

What was the discussion with Rainey, and how, if he’s noticed anything in particular, does it affect the hard-throwing right-hander when he has a long time off between appearances? Is it also a challenge working non-save situations, as Rainey did in losses to the Giants and the Marlins (on Wednesday) during the recently-completed homestand?

“Rainey yesterday, after he came out of the game, we talked for a little bit, and I asked him, I said, ‘In that situation, what are you thinking?’” Martinez said, “... because we don’t have the lead. And he said, ‘That to me is like a save.’ He said, ‘We’re still down a run, but I’m trying to keep the game where it’s at.’ So it’s kind of interesting the mindset that they have, but they understand, and I try to tell all these pitchers, no matter when you come in the game, that inning is a save opportunity for all you guys, and that’s the way I want you guys to look at it, so when the opportunity does arise for these guys, they know.

“It doesn’t matter what the score is, what the outcome is, but your job is to get three outs, and try to get three quick outs. And they understand that. I know it’s different, it’s a different beast pitching in the ninth inning, we all know that, but I think at some point in time, everybody had to learn pitching in the sixth inning, pitching in the seventh inning, pitching in the eighth inning, in order to get that spot to be the closer or that high-leverage guy, and I think Rainey and Finnegan understand that really well.”

Getting To Know You; Getting To Know All About You:

At what point does a manager know what he really has in a ballclub? Washington’s relatively early in the organizational reboot they kicked off at last July’s trade deadline, and things are going pretty much as expected this season (maybe a little worse?), as the club tries to really assess what they have in their young players in the minors and majors before deciding how many of their expiring contracts to trade away this season or something.

Davey Martinez was asked before Thursday’s series finale with the Miami Marlins how long it takes him to get a real feel for what he has each season?

“For me it’s about today, it’s about one game at a time,” he said, declining to break with his usual approach of focusing on the task at hand rather than looking forward or back.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Washington Nationals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

“I never put any higher expectations to what today brings, anything can happen, honestly,” he said. “I’ve been on teams — hey I’ll tell you, in 2008, when I was with Tampa, we weren’t expected to do anything, you know, and everybody thought we’re going to fall apart, this and that, and we ended up going to the World Series that year.

“In 2015 with the Cubs, same. We were projected to be really good in maybe ‘17, in ‘15 made the playoffs and ‘16 we win the World Series. And I can go back to ‘19. At 19-31 everybody wrote us off, and I just told everybody let’s just focus on today, let’s just take one game at a time, win today, and let’s just see what happens, and next thing you know we’re in the playoffs and we ended up winning the World Series. So these guys understand, they get it. I don’t put too much emphasis on 50 games or 100 games, all the emphasis is on today, and what we do today, and how we can get better today.”