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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Alcides Escobar in a new role; bullpen reduction; injury updates...

Highlights from manager Davey Martinez’s pregame media availability in OPACY...

Altility? Utilcides? Alcides Escobar’s New Role:

Davey Martinez told reporters when Alcides Escobar first went on the IL with a hamstring injury back on June 1st, and 22-year-old shortstop Luis García got the call to play short in the big leagues, that there would be a conversation when the veteran infielder was set to return, because García was coming up to play short every day.

“As we get closer to him getting ready again, there will be another conversation with him,” Martinez said.

“Right now I just want him to get healthy,” he added.

“But I think he understands where we’re at. He knows that we’re trying to build some young players and get them up here, and that’s part of the process, but it will be a conversation to have with him when he starts getting better, and we know that he’s going to be okay and ready to play.”

Before the veteran infielder went out on a rehab assignment, Martinez and Escobar did talk about his role once he returned to the majors.

“I talked to Alcides, and he’s going to be more of a utility player. He can play third, he’s done it, short, second, first, left field, he has played center field before,” Martinez said.

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

“So, he’s going to kind of be that guy where if we need somebody late in the games, and also too if there’s a tough lefty and we have to give Luis a day off we will, and he can play short, but he understands moving forward his role, that Luis is going to play every day.

“And Luis has done well so far. And as I always mention, when [García] comes up here it’s to see him play every day, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Before last night’s game, Escobar was reinstated from the IL, and he and Martinez talked a bit about where he’d fit going forward, and how he needed to embrace his new role.

“He’s got to understand where we’re at right now as far as an organization,” the fifth-year skipper reiterated, “... and that he’s got to be able to play all positions.

“And I told him, I said, just be ready to play,” Martinez added. “But he’s got the ability to play third base, shortstop, second base, and he’s played outfield as well, so I kind of like that.

“Having him and [Ehire] Adrianza that can do a multitude of things is kind of nice.”

Since Escobar and Adrianza are in similar roles now, how will he decide which one to go with in spot starts, fill-in spots, pinch hit opportunities, or as a defensive replacement?

“We’ll just see how the game goes, and some of those guys will be used in a different situation than the others, but it’s nice to have them both, both can play short.

“Alcides has actually got more experience playing shortstop, so that’s nice. And [Adrianza] can play everywhere, so I just like having them both around, they’re both veteran guys that understand the game well.”

Roster Reduction:

Davey Martinez was holding out hope Major League Baseball would once again decided to let all of the teams keep 14 pitchers on their roster, as they have to this point in 2022, but as of Monday, the number was set to drop back down to 13, which the Nationals’ manager said could cause some issues for his beleaguered bullpen, if his starters did not start going a bit deeper in their outings.

“For us, I was hoping they would do it,” Martinez said of potentially keeping it at 14.

“I can’t sit here and lie to you, but it would be nice if we could keep that extra pitcher, but I don’t know. I haven’t heard anything yet, we’ll see. I know last time they changed it a few days before, I’m holding my breath, but we’ll see. I would love — and honestly it’s not just us neither. You look around baseball, what’s going on, I think having an extra pitcher will definitely help, at least for the rest of this year.”

Washington Nationals v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

So did MLB allow teams to keep 14? Narrator: They did not.

On Sunday afternoon, the Nationals announced they’d optioned right-hander Cory Abbott back to Triple-A Rochester, and before the start of play last night, the corresponding move to bring Alcides Escobar off the IL was announced.

What did he think would have to change in terms of his bullpen usage now, with a potential long man on the way to upstate NY.

“We’ve talked to a bunch of our guys that they are going to have to get stretched out a little bit, and be able to pitch 1+ innings,” Martinez said.

“Some of our guys have done it, I know [Andres] Machado is one of the guys I mentioned, that he’s done it. Erasmo [Ramírez] has done it. So, we count on those guys, if need be they need to go out there and pitch more than just one inning. Some days we might need them just to pitch one inning, but they understand the situation and their role, especially now with one less pitcher, they might more often have to do that.”

Did they consider keeping Abbott to have another long-man in the ‘pen?

“We thought about it, and length, but we felt like the best thing to do was to send him back and keep him stretched out just in case anything happens.”

Random Updates:

Last we heard, Stephen Strasburg was heading out to see a specialist, after feeling discomfort in his first MLB start back after surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome last summer? Anything new?

“No, nothing yet. We’re waiting on some results, but we haven’t gotten anything back yet.”

How about Victor Arano, the veteran reliever who went on the IL with inflammation in his left knee back on June 6th?

Washington Nationals v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

“He’s coming along,” Martinez said. “He’s been throwing, but not from his feet yet, but we’re trying to keep his arm stretched out as much as possible. But he’s strengthening his lower half, he looks good today.

“Today is the first time I saw him really walking without a limp, so that’s great. But he’s coming along.”

“Not from his feet yet”?

“Yeah, he sits and throws,” the manager explained.

“They got him on sitting and throwing and playing long-toss, so, we want to keep his arm in good shape.”

So they’re working him out any way they can to keep him in shape while he rests his knee?

“Yeah, he’s also doing some upper body stuff as well, so like I said, our hope this week is he’s able to turn the corner, we get him on his feet and start throwing.”