Davey Martinez, in discussing Lane Thomas’s success since he moved up in the Washington Nationals’ lineup late last month, reiterated his belief that leading off, or hitting in any other spot is not really a big a deal since, “once you get through the order once, you just become a hitter,” but he acknowledged that it might be a comfort thing for the outfielder.
When a reporter mentioned his experiment with Kyle Schwarber leading off last season, and the run he went on in June after Martinez made the move, the manager joked and asked if it was a question about moving Juan Soto up top, but he said when he makes out his lineup it is really about what works well from the top spot to ninth.
“I try to look at how things fit in our lineup,” he explained. “Big reason for me that Lane can lead off right now, is honestly Luis [García]. Not having all those right-handed hitters in a bunch. Now Luis is hitting eighth or ninth, so we have a left-hander down there, so it’s easy for me to say, ‘Okay, Lane can hit leadoff now, and put César second,’ and César, he doesn’t mind where he hits, he just likes to hit. He’s done it before. He’s hit everywhere in a lineup and it doesn’t bother him a bit.”
The fact that Thomas has really done well since the move is a bonus, Martinez said, but he did stress that he didn’t want him to change anything up just because he was leading off.
“When Lane is swinging the bat that well, and he’s done it before, he understands it,” the fifth-year skipper said. “The biggest thing for me, is I told Lane, ‘I don’t want you to start looking for walks. I just want you to go hit. Just hit, and if you accept your walk rate, but don’t start not swinging at fastballs because you’re trying to walk and get on base. You’re going to get on base by hitting, and if you walk, you walk.’ And he understands that, and having César who’s a switch hitter behind him, it kind of balances out our lineup a lot. And I know César can still get on base for Juan [Soto], and [Nelson Cruz], and [Josh] Bell.
“It worked out. Like I said, when I sit around and start thinking about lineups every day, I kind of try to figure out what’s the best fit for all our lineup, 1-9.
“So, and right now it’s working. It’s good. He’s hitting the ball, he’s getting on base, he’s doing the things we need him to do.”
Thomas is back up top again today, as the Nationals try for a three-game sweep in D.C.