The Victor Robles We Were Looking For:
Following an 0 for 18 start in his first eight games of the 2022 campaign, some tweaks to his swing mechanics, and a ton of reps at the plate, Victor Robles started the 2nd of 3 in Coors Field on something of a tear at the plate.
Robles, “across his last 14 games ... has recorded a .341/.375/.455 slash line,” the Nationals highlighted in their pregame notes. “He’s 15-for-44 with five doubles, nine RBI, three walks and eight runs scored,” they added, and he’d, “hit safely in nine of the 14.”
“We worked with him in Spring Training, and it’s starting to click for him,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters recently, “so that’s kind of nice to see, and see the results for him.”
Martinez isn’t the only one excited about the improvement they’ve seen from the 24-year-old outfielder, after two subpar offensive years in 2020-21.
“I’m pleased with his work ethic,” GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies in his weekly visit on Wednesday morning.
“And it’s not easy to change midstream when you’ve had success early in your career,” he added, “... and then kind of change things around. I have to give [Hitting Coach] Darnell Coles and Davey a lot of credit for kind of selling it to Victor and give Victor a lot of credit for accepting it and working so hard to make some subtle changes. The skill set is just so strong that you’ve got to believe in guys like this, because there’s just not a lot of guys around with his tools, and when you get a guy like that, you have to really be patient with him, because they’re going to have growing pains, they’re going to have inconsistencies, but when you can do what he can do on the field and on the basepaths and with his throwing arm, it’s very beneficial for a young team to have such a good young talent at such a premium position like center field.”
Let’s not crack open the champagne and celebrate just yet, of course, because it’s a solid stretch after a couple years of struggles.
“We’ll be patient with him,” Rizzo said, “... and he’s starting to feel a little bit better about the adjustments, and I think that he’s going to have a good, strong, solid season for us.”
Ring (Or Maybe Extend?) That Bell:
Josh Bell’s 3 for 5 (3-run HR) game in the series opener with the Rockies left the 29-year-old first baseman 9 for 18 (.500/.550/.778), with two doubles and the home run four games into the Nationals’ road trip.
On the year, in his second season in D.C. following the Christmas Eve 2020 trade from the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bell had reached base safely in 22 of 24 games going into Wednesday’s matchup in Coors Field, and going back to May 13, 2021, the Nationals noted, after a slow start following a sting on the COVID-IL last season, Bell had a .300/.390/.519 line, “26 doubles, [a] triple, 27 homers, 96 RBI(s), 73 walks[,] and 75 runs scored in 145 games.”
What does his manager think of the consistent production over Bell’s first year-plus in D.C.?
“He works hard,” Martinez said on Tuesday night. “And the thing about him right now, is he’s trying to keep everything simple. He’s not trying to do too much up there, he’s just trying to put the barrel of the bat on the ball, and he’s swinging the bat really well.”
Bell’s ability to spark the offense, as he did with the three-run shot early in the first of three with the Rockies, has stood out as well.
“It’s awesome, and like I said, for me right now, just watching him it’s a lot of fun to watch him working at-bats,” Martinez said.
“When he gets like this — we’ve seen it before — he can carry a team, and he’s doing that right now.”
“He’s a really good player,” GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies early on Wednesday morning. “We thought a lot about him when we traded for him and he has not disappointed for us on the field, and more importantly off the field in the clubhouse and in the community he’s been a godsend, so he’s a terrific human being and he’s a hell of a good player, and we really like him here in D.C.”
Bell went 0 for 4 in the Nationals’ 5-2 loss last night.
Strasdate... Upburg? Stephen Strasburg Update?:
Here’s the latest from GM Mike Rizzo on the Junkies talking about the Nationals’ ‘09 No. 1 overall pick, Stephen Strasburg, who is currently building up in West Palm Beach, FL as he continues to recover from the season-ending surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome he had last summer...
“The latest on Stras would be he threw a live batting practice against hitters yesterday and he threw one inning of live BP, he’s going to throw another one on Friday, and we’re going to extend him. Also, Joe Ross did the same thing, so both those guys are on track to do a rehab start with some affiliate in the near future. Maybe a couple more live batting practices and see if they’re on track and they feel good about it, we get them out to an affiliate and get their arms stretched out 70-80 pitches and then we bring them to D.C.”
Patrick and Riley:
Going into last night’s game, Patrick Corbin had a 7.96 ERA and .364/.462/.573 line against in six starts and 26 IP with Keibert Ruiz behind the plate, and a 2.55 ERA and .159/.232/.270 line against in three starts and 17 2/3 IP working with Riley Adams. Corbin’s manager talked before the second of three with the Rockies about what was working for the lefty and their backup catcher.
“We’ll see how it works out today,” Martinez said, when asked if they might pair up on more of a regular basis. “It actually worked out good, because with the day game tomorrow, the matchup with the lefty presented itself with Riley and able to catch Corbin, and tomorrow Ruiz will catch in the day game, so, but yeah, they work good together, Patrick feels comfortable throwing to him, he’s actually done well catching him, so it’s another good opportunity for those two guys to work together, and if it does work out well, we may have to leave him catching Corbin, if Corbin feels comfortable throwing to him which he does, we’ll see how that plays out, but I wouldn’t mind that at all.”
Following Corbin’s eight-inning, 94-pitch outing, Martinez told reporters it worked well for both of them again, and it might become a thing.
“They worked great together, they really did, so we’ll see what happens in five days from now, but I kind of liked what I saw out of both of them today,” he said.
“I think Riley gives him a bigger target, he’s just a big guy, but the communicate, they come in after every inning, they talk, they’re sitting there and they’re watching videos. I heard them talking today about [Brendan] Rodgers, after getting a couple hits the other way, they readjusted, so I mean, but they work really good together, so we’ll see — like I said, in five days we’ll look at everything, but I like what Riley is doing with Patrick right now.”