Riley & Stephen:
As of Tuesday afternoon, when he made the official announcement on Stephen Strasburg’s return to the majors for the series finale in Miami, Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez didn’t know which catcher he would send out with Washington’s 33-year-old right-hander his first time out in the majors since undergoing season-ending surgery last summer.
“We’ll see. I’m going to look at the matchups, I know [Marlins’ left-hander Trevor] Rogers is pitching, so I’ll take that into consideration,” Martinez said.
He decided to go with Riley Adams, over Keibert Ruiz, who’d caught each of the first two of three games in loanDepot park.
“I could’ve went either way,” Martinez said once he released the lineup for the finale in Miami.
“I think it was more or less Riley’s been talking to [Strasburg] lot, being that Keibert’s been playing, catching these other guys. Also too, I like the matchup with Riley against their pitcher today [Rogers] as well. So [Adams] gets a chance to go out there and catch Stephen. If it works out, it could be something we’ll continue to do. But like I said before, Keibert and Riley are both well-suited to catch Stephen and everybody else, so Riley gets it today.”
How, Martinez was asked, did he want the 25-year-old, second-year catcher to work with the veteran starter? Should he take charge? Follow Strasburg’s lead?
“I want them both to communicate,” Martinez said, “... which they have done in the last couple days, and go through what they feel like — how to get outs. Riley is very good at studying hitters.
“Stephen is very good at it as well,” he added, “so they compare notes and they’ve got a good game plan.”
Now that he’s back, Martinez said he’s just happy to get to watch Strasburg pitch again, and the goal is to keep him healthy the rest of the way. Also, he won’t have to answer “that” one question every day.
Welcome Back Stephen Strasburg...and his filthy changeup. pic.twitter.com/CBhXKZj2zM— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 9, 2022
“A lot of questions since his rehab of ‘When?’ and ‘When?’ and ‘When?’” Martinez joked, “and honestly, for me it was more about listening to him and seeing where he’s at and how he’s feeling, and when I talked to him the other day and he said he’s ready to pitch up here, like I told him, first thing I told him is, ‘I’m proud of you, one, and two, just go out there and you be you and see where it takes us.’ We’ll be having these conversations every day after he pitches, and see what he’s going through, see where he’s at, see if there’s any way we can help him progress, and keep him healthy, but like I said, he’s in a good place right now, and he’s ready.”
Ehire Is Here:
Maikel Franco started each of the Nationals’ first 57 games this season, and as manager Davey Martinez said once Ehire Adrianza came off the IL earlier on the current road trip, now that the utility man was back he wanted to get some of the guys who had played all season a much-needed break.
Franco got the night off last night in Miami, though Martinez half-jokingly said he’d better stay focused in case he was needed in the 58th game, but he also said he was happy to have a chance to spell some players with Adrianza back.
“It’s awesome,” Martinez said. “And I explained that to the guys that have been playing, that they’ll get those days off, and it’s worked out great. So Adrianza is fresh, he’s coming in, like I said, he had his Opening Day a couple days ago, and he did well yesterday, so he’s going to get a chance to play second base, but that’s the beauty about having a guy who can do multiple things, play different positions, and play them well. And like I said, he was a target and acquisition that we wanted over the winter because he can do all those things, and he’s a very good player, so he gets a chance today to play second base.”
One More Strasburg Quote:
Before Stephen Strasburg’s return to the mound, Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez was asked to talk about what the other members of the Nationals’ rotation, and other young players with the team right now could learn from having the 33-year-old right-hander back in the mix in the majors.
“Just watch him compete,” Martinez said, “but hey, for our infielders and outfielders, hey, play good defense. For the most part he’s going to throw strikes, he’s going to be around the plate. Just play good defense, and let’s try to get him out of there three pitches or less, and get him through an inning as quickly as possible.”
Nationals’ starter Josiah Gray told MLB.com’s Jessica Camerato he was looking forward to picking Strasburg’s brain:
Josiah Gray on Strasburg:"To be able to talk to him in btwn outings is going to be super beneficial to just bounce things off of him & feel like I can learn a lot more in btwn outings now that I have a guy w that much experience to be able to ask questions & be a sounding board."— Jessica Camerato (@JessicaCamerato) June 9, 2022