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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on All-Star Game; Juan Soto in HR Derby + roster moves...

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability last night in Arizona...

ASG Experience/Soto Wins HR Derby:

Davey Martinez was in LA with Juan Soto over the All-Star Break, named to the NL coaching staff by Atlanta Braves’ skipper Brian Snitker, and he was in attendance when his 23-year-old slugger took the HR Derby on Monday night, there to celebrate on the field when Soto got a second shot at the glorified batting practice crown and grabbed it. Soto said his experience in the 2021 Derby definitely helped the second time around.

“Definitely,” he said in his post-Derby presser in Dodger Stadium. “At the end of the day I learned a couple things; that I don’t have to only pull the ball. I can go either way, in and out, and I can go left, center, right, everywhere, because I figured out I have the power to hit the ball that way. So just try to square up the balls and see how far it lands.”

T-Mobile Home Run Derby Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

“It was awesome,” Martinez said of Soto’s performance and win.

“You don’t know what a toll it is to do that — and actually go that far and go to the finals and actually win it. Juan did a great job, he really did, and obviously he won the whole thing, but there were some incredible moments in that HR Derby.

“The kid from Seattle, [Mariners’ rookie Julio Rodríguez], hitting all those home runs in one round, I mean, it was awesome. But Juan, our guy, was the man, he’s the king, so it was fun.”

The whole All-Star experience was a lot of fun for Martinez.

“It was great,” Martinez said before the second-half opener last night in Arizona.

“I’ve always said this: The All-Star Game is an honor to be there. You’re around so many really, really, really unbelievable players, so it was a lot of fun. Two days of a little bit of chaos, but I enjoyed it very much.

“But like I said, I got to see a lot of guys, meet some new young players, that was exciting. So we had a good time.”

Roster Moves To Start 2nd Half:

Before the first of three with Arizona last night, Washington’s Nationals announced a few roster moves to start the second half:

· Recalled right-handed pitcher Hunter Harvey from Triple-A Rochester

· Returned from rehabilitation assignment and reinstated right-handed pitcher Victor Arano from the 15-day Injured list

· Placed right-handed pitcher Tyler Clippard on the 15-day Injured List with a groin strain (retroactive to July 19)

Clippard felt something after he warmed up to come into last Saturday’s game, and didn’t end up pitching that night.

“Clippard was coming in the game and he cramped up, so we had to pull him out, so I need to figure out how he’s doing right now,” Davey Martinez explained after that game, noting it was the veteran reliever’s left leg which cramped up on him.

The next day he said Clippard was available if needed, but now he’s landed on the 15-Day IL with a groin strain after making his 2022 debut last week.

As noted though, it’s retroactive to July 19th, so the Nationals are hoping it won’t be a long IL stint for the reliever.

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

“I think it could be pretty quick,” Martinez said, “... but we wanted to make sure he’s healed and when he comes back he’s good to go. He had a little bit — he got an MRI, had a little bit of a strain in his left groin, so we wanted to be careful. So we brought [Hunter] Harvey back, we sent [Cory] Abbott down, we brought [Victor] Arano back, and Arano looked good, he threw the ball well down in rehab, so he’s back.”

Arano suffered a bone bruise and had inflammation in his left knee after tweaking it on a play in the infield in early June, but his manager said he looked strong as he rehabbed to return, and checked all the boxes they need him to before he could come back.

He said he wanted to see Arano do what he did early this season now that he’s back in the big league bullpen.

“Pounding the strike zone,” Martinez said was the key to his success. “As we all know he’s got a great slider. But the key for him is he keeps everything down and he pounds the strike zone. He’s got a really good live fastball — but he throws strikes. And he was pitching really well before he got hurt, he went down there, and we had good reports on him doing the same thing, so he looked really good. We did some PFPs and I wanted to watch him come off the mound, he handled it with no problem today.”

Arano’s return to the bullpen didn’t go well. He had the leadoff man reach on an error, then he gave up back-to-back, one-out singles and then back-to-back walks, and a sac fly as the Arizona Diamondbacks added to their lead in a 10-1 win.

2nd Half:

Davey Martinez’s club finished the first half of the season with a win last Sunday, but they were just 2-14 in July, and 32 games under .500 overall on the year going into the All-Star Break, and the fifth-year manager said he didn’t necessarily want to wipe the slate clean, because there was a lot to learn and take from the first 94 games of the 2022 campaign, but it was an opportunity to take a breath and then get back at it.

92nd MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

“We won the last game before the break,” he explained, “... so for me it’s about just kind of regrouping and then start, but I do want them to remember that last game that we played, we played well, so it’s a fresh start for us, I told those guys, ‘Hey, this is the time now where everybody seems to forget about what happens in the beginning of the year, now is the time to finish up, finish up strong from here on out and go out there and play good baseball,’ and I’m hoping that these guys will go out there and do that, and understand that, “Hey, you never know in this game, I’ve said that all along, just go out there and play hard and let’s see what happens.”