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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Juan Soto hitting 2nd & Rubber Man + a Sean Doolittle update...

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

Soto Hitting Second:

Going into last night’s game, Juan Soto’s 138 plate appearances for Washington’s Nationals early this season were second-most on the team, behind only Nationals’ leadoff man César Hernández’s 140, and Soto had 27 PAs in a month-plus with runners in scoring position, though the 23-year-old slugger was 2 for 24 (.083/.185/.083) in those plate appearances, with two RBIs, three walks, and eight Ks.

All things considered, a decision this season to hit Soto second had him coming up a lot, often with runners on in front of him, and when he starts driving them in, it’s going to be something that helps the entire team.

At least that’s how Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez sees it, as he explained in his pregame press conference with reporters before Wednesday’s game against the Mets.

“I like it. I really do. Like I said, we look at all the numbers, and he’s come up the most with runners in scoring position, so that’s a good thing, and he’s the guy we want up there with guys on base,” Martinez said.

“For him it’s just relax and him be him, and not try to do too much.

New York Mets v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

“As you know, he’s going to hit the ball out of the ballpark, but what I like most about him, he’ll hit the ball hard a lot of times, and if we get guys in scoring position, when he starts doing that regularly, he’s going to drive in a lot of runs.”

Right now, however, Martinez said he thinks Soto, who started the second of three with the Mets in D.C. with a .257/.391/.460 line, five doubles, six home runs, 24 walks, and 23 Ks in a total of 138 PAs, is expanding his zone and trying to make things happen, instead of taking what opposing pitchers give him, even if it’s more walks.

“I think he is expanding a lot more than he typically does,” Martinez said, “and like I said, it comes with a little bit of — he wants to drive in the runs when they’re out there, but he just needs to be him, and we always talk about — I always to him about he’s a really good hitter when he takes his walks, so just understand that he needs to take his walks.”

Soto’s 24 walks were tied for the major league lead before the start of play on Wednesday.

He hit his seventh home run when he crushed a 2-2 fastball in his first trip to the plate, for a two-run blast after Hernández reached base with a single to start the bottom of the first.

Rubber Man?:

Maikel Franco’s throwing error in the first last night, was the Nationals’ 26th as a team this season, and their 14th throwing error, as the infielders test Josh Bell’s glove, durability, and flexibility with their skipped, high, overthrown, or otherwise troublesome throws to first.

Davey Martinez said the work Bell has put in over there has prepared him well for the rigors of the job. [ed. note - “Bell made just one error at first base going into last night’s game.”]

MLB: Game One-Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

“He works so hard over there with [Tim Bogar] at first base, and it’s just a testament to how hard he works,” Martinez said.

“When the new movie comes out, Fantastic Four, they can use him as Rubber Man, because he has been all over the place. But he’s done really well.”

Doolittle Not Able to Doo Much:

When the Nationals transferred Sean Doolittle from the 10-Day to the 60-Day IL last week, Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez explained the move to reporters and revealed that the lefty, who went on the IL with an elbow sprain on April 20th, received a PRP injection in his left elbow which would keep him from doing much for a while.

“He’s going to just rehab,” Martinez said when asked about the next steps for the veteran reliever.

“That’s what he can do,” the manager added. “The reason we chose to put him on the 60-Day, he had a PRP injection. That takes six weeks before he can throw. So, he opted to do that, get it over with, get it done right away, now he’s going to rehab.

“He said he feels really good, which is great, so we’re just going to rehab and get him back.”

Doolittle made the decision to go that route, Martinez said.

MLB: New York Mets at Washington Nationals Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

“It was an option that he had and he opted to want to do it. He said he thinks he feels better doing it now and getting it over with, so like I said, now it’s just about rehab and getting him ready and when he’s able to throw, we’ll get him back as soon as possible.”

“Yeah, PRP injections are very commonplace in rehabilitation now in the big leagues,” GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies yesterday, when asked for an update on the 34-year-old reliever.

“And it’s a small difference between being on the 10-Day and the 60-Day. The difference is that with the injury and the shutdown to rehab and then the build-up to pitch again, it’s going to take him two months to pitch for us back in the big leagues. Now, he can be back on a 30-day rehabilitation in the minor leagues before the 60 is up, so it’s more of kind of a calendar move than it indicates that the injury was worse than we thought it was, so you move him from the 10 to the 60 to open up a 40-man roster spot, but really the calendar and the rehab doesn’t change. He’s going to be back ready once we shut him down, his arm feels better, and then he starts his throwing program he can go on a rehab assignment down in the minor leagues for 30 of those 60 days to get ready to pitch in the big leagues.”