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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Nelson Cruz at the plate; young Nats in LA + more...

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability from Dodger Stadium...

Nelson Cruz’s Future:

As soon as Nelson Cruz signed his 1-year/$15M free agent deal with Washington this March, there was chatter about what the Nationals would eventually flip the 42-year-old veteran of 18 big league seasons for at the trade deadline.

Cruz has struggled at the plate at times, but he’s had good stretches as well. He sat out of last night’s game after an 0 for 3 night in the series opener in Dodger Stadium, which left him hitless (0 for 14) in four games out of this year’s All-Star Break.

“His timing is a little off,” Martinez said, after 16 games in July in which Cruz has put up a tough .153/.242/.170 line, going 9 for 59 so far. “He’s a little late getting his foot down. I know he came out early today to hit, so it’s something that he wanted to work on. But like I said, he’s been doing this for so many years, he knows himself really well. He knows his swing really well. So he worked with Darnell [Coles] today on just getting ready a little bit earlier, so like I said, yesterday, last night, I wanted to give him a day today knowing that we’ve got a quick turnaround tomorrow.”

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Brett Davis/Getty Images

While Josh Bell and Juan Soto’s names have been mentioned often in the lead-up to August 2nd’s trade deadline, Cruz’s name hasn’t come up as much, though Andy Martino of SNY is one reporter who has mentioned interest in Cruz on the New York Mets’ part, and New York Post writer Jon Heyman too has reported Cruz was on the Mets’ radar (though both of those reports were before the Mets traded for Daniel Vogelbach).

Is the uncertainty about where he might be come August 3rd weighing on Cruz?

“He’s good,” Martinez said. “We talked yesterday for a little bit, and we both said the same thing. After your — your first trade is usually the toughest. And then after that, you’re kind of like, ‘Eh,’ you’re going to go to another team and try to help them win. And that’s kind of his mentality.

“He would love to stay here. If he stays here, great. If he happens to go somewhere else, then he knows he’s got a job to do, and that’s to help that club win.”

With a .155/.253/.226 April, .318/.379/.459 May, .271/.364/.458 June, and his numbers so far in July noted above, it’s really been an up and down season for the Nats’ DH, which is about the league adjusting, and Cruz doing the same, to some extent, according to his manager, but it really is a matter of timing at the plate more than anything else Martinez said.

“For me it’s all timing with him, it really is, and he goes through stretches where his timing is really good, and he hits the ball hard, consistently. We’ve just got to try to get him back there as soon as possible, and hopefully it could be as early as tomorrow, if he has to pinch-hit today, it could be today. But like I said, he’s a professional hitter. He understands how to hit. He watches a lot of film on pitchers. He has a plan every time he goes up there to hit. So now it’s just a matter of him getting ready early and hitting strikes.

“When you’re late, you seem to chase a lot, and we’ve been noticing he’s chasing a lot.”

I ❤️ LA (We Love It!):

Davey Martinez agreed with a reporter who said the atmosphere in Dodger Stadium makes for a great test for the younger members of his team who hadn’t had the opportunity to go out and play in the ballpark built in 1962 before this week.

“It’s a great atmosphere,” Martinez said before the second of three in Chavez Ravine. “It’s awesome. And I’ve seen this, as you know, I’ve seen this as well at Nationals Park, so, but this is good for them, they go out there and the crowd is all-in. I know a couple of guys have mentioned how loud the bass speakers are, so, yeah, but it’s a lot of fun, you come here and compete and you come out of here yesterday with a win and having a chance to go out there again and go 1-0 today.”

Washington Nationals v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

So the bass is loud in LA, but what else have they had to say about the history, and the park itself?

“No, they really were focused on the speakers. Out of all the things they loved the speakers.”

Martinez’s take on the speakers in Dodger Stadium? “They’re loud,” he said.

More LHPs?:

There is just one L listed on the right side of the B/T split on the list of the pitchers currently on the active roster for the Nationals, and the one L is Patrick Corbin.

Davey Martinez is going with a right-handed bullpen these days, which is tough against a good left-hand hitting team like the Dodgers, but it worked on Monday night.

92nd MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

“It would be nice to have one, but like I said, we got through it with the guys we’ve got,” the fifth-year skipper said. “And I got a lot of confidence in these guys. They’ve been pitching well throughout the whole year, the bullpen, and they’ve been facing some tough left-handers, and it’s just a matter, for me, to stay in the moment, and get to the next pitch. Try not to get ahead of themselves. They’ve all got good stuff. And you saw it last night. For me, it was actually really fun to watch these guys go out there and compete, and like I said, take to heart what we’re trying to teach them and go out there and put it in play.”

If there’s a tough stretch of lefties coming up these days, where does Martinez turn first amongst his right-handed relief corps?

“C.J. [Carl Edwards, Jr.], [Andres] Machado. I have no issues if [Hunter] Harvey can continue to throw strikes,” Martinez said. “Man, he’s just a power pitcher, you know, but he’s got a really good split that he hasn’t thrown much, but he should use it a little more, and [Steve] Cishek has actually done okay against lefties, so it’s just like I said, you look at the lineups and you try to match up guys that you feel fit because of their stuff, and so far for the bullpen it’s worked out.”