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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez talks Stephen Strasburg and next steps; bullpen arms + more...

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability over the last few days...


Davey Martinez laughed when he was asked, after the Washington’s win over the Colorado Rockies in the series finale in Nationals Park on Sunday, if he had a chance to watch his 33-year-old right-hander, Stephen Strasburg, throw a rehab start for Fredericksburg, the Nats’ High-A affiliate. Strasburg was pitching while the big league club was playing the Rockies, but of course Martinez knew about the results (6 Ks, 1 BB, 5.0 hitless IP) in his second start as Strasburg works his way back from surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

“I knew that about right when he was done. He was really good,” Martinez said with a hand-rubbing, anticipatory tone. “That’s awesome. We’re going to get him back. He’s going to get here, get him on the train with us. He’s going to New York, he’ll throw a bullpen, we’ll see how he feels, and then we’ll make a decision where he’s going next. If he feels good, I can tell you now, that we’ll probably send him to Rochester, because it’s close, but it was awesome, it was great news to hear that, it really was.”

More importantly, it’s another step on a long road back for Strasburg, who has, of course, made just seven starts in the last two injury-plagued seasons.

“So, hey, look, building blocks,” Martinez added. “‘One day closer,’ that’s what I always say, one day closer, so we’ll see how he feels tomorrow, and then we’ll go from there.”

One day after those comments, the manager was asked before the series opener with the Mets last night, if there was any more news a little more removed from Strasburg’s outing.

“He was good,” Martinez said. “His breaking ball was good. His changeup was good. He attacked the strike zone. Like I said, he got six strikeouts, no walks, which is awesome, 58 pitches in five innings. So he’s going to go out here in a couple days and throw a bullpen, and if everything goes well, like I said yesterday, we’re probably going to send him to Rochester and get him stretched out a little bit more and then we’ll see where we’re at from there.”

So, could he come back to the majors if all goes well next time out, or does he still need a couple more?

“I’m not going to put a timeframe on him,” the manager said. “We haven’t done that yet, and I don’t want to do that to him now. So, we’re going to let him continue to progress and build up, and we’ll have conversations with him now, and throughout, because I’m hoping that he’s going to be with us after he does throw in these games, and then we’ll talk about it and see where he’s at mentally and physically and then we’ll go from there.”

Bullpen Depth:

Going into the three-game series with the New York Mets this week, Washington Nationals’ reliever Victor Arano was tied for the team lead with 21 appearances out of the bullpen and was tied for first in innings pitched out of the ‘pen with 20 23 overall in the first two months this season. Carl Edwards, Jr. was getting big innings, when the Nats were ahead. Lefty Erasmo Ramírez, in 15 games and 20 IP, had the lowest ERA (2.25, tied with Edwards, Jr.) among all relievers with at least 10 appearances for the Nationals this season.

“They’ve been great, they really have,” Martinez said of the contributions those three have made in each of their first seasons in D.C., “and for me this is a testament about our guys, our scouts, the guys up top, [GM] Mike [Rizzo] and those guys, the analytical guys, feeling that these guys can help. We were on Arano really, really early. We really liked his stuff when he was with Philly. So, he’s one acquisition we got fairly early, and then Erasmo came later, but the biggest thing with him and CJ [Edwards, Jr.] was health. If these guys were healthy, we felt like they could help, and the other thing with CJ is — because I’ve know him, is strikes. When he works ahead, and he’s ahead of hitters, he’s very, very effective, and he’s done that, and he’s very aware of that. We pound that on him every day, hey, it’s always strike zone. It’s strike one, strike one, strike one, your stuff is good. So, and he’s been working on it. He’s been working on a lot of different things with [Bullpen coach] Ricky [Bones]. We talk to him a lot about his fastball usage and what he needs to do, and he’s been doing it, so he’s been awesome.”

Washington Nationals v New York Mets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Overall, Martinez added at another point in this past Saturday’s post game presser, he’s been happy with the work his relievers have done in a tough first two months.

“Our bullpen has been doing well,” he said. “Knock on wood. They really have been doing well. I feel really confident if we have the lead late in games that these guys can come in and do the job they did today, so it’s awesome to see. Very gratifying for that as well. Ricky [Bones] has done a good job with them. [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey has done a great job with them about pounding the strike zone.

“I know we always talk about the walks, especially the leadoff walks, so you’ve got to throw the ball over the plate and let your defense play, so they’ve been doing a good job of that.”

Remember AY-ray ah-dree-AHN-zuh?:

Ehire Adrianza suffered a quad injury in late March, and the 32-year-old veteran started the year on the IL, but he’s back playing at Triple-A Rochester now and building back up again, after playing six games at Double-A Harrisburg on the rehab stint.

“He’s got the day off today,” Martinez said on Monday afternoon, “but he’ll play in Rochester tomorrow. All the rehab guys, we gave them a day off today, so they’ll resume progression tomorrow, but he’s going to play tomorrow in Rochester, and get at-bats there. But he looks good.

“Yesterday he had two at-bats [with Harrisburg] and he wanted to get out of there, and this way he could travel and get a day where he could recuperate and get back out there [with Rochester].”

As for boxes he needs to check before the Nationals bring him up?

“Like I said, this is a Spring Training period for him, right? So, he’s going to go through this process, we’ll look at everything, we’ll deem when he’s ready, but we want him to play multiple positions. I want to get him a couple games in the outfield, because he’s done that in the past, so we want to get him out there as well, and we’ll figure out when we feel he’s ready.”