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Washington Nationals news & notes: Patrick Corbin exits with injury; Joey Meneses keeps hitting; rookie talk...

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability on Tuesday...

Corbin’s Early Exit:

The five earned runs Patrick Corbin allowed in 6 23 innings pitched against the Phillies early this month account for half of the 10 ER the 33-year-old left-hander had allowed over his last five starts for the Nationals, as he’s done his best to turn things around after three years that have been rough for the 10-year-veteran.

Corbin helped Washington win the World Series in his first season in D.C. in 2019, but years 2-4 of his 6-year/$140M contract have been a slog.

Corbin took the mound last night in Atlanta coming off a six-inning outing against Baltimore in which he bounced back from the start in Philadelphia with a strong turn in which he gave up just four hits and one run in a 6-2 loss to the Orioles in which he received no decision.

“Patrick was really good today,” manager Davey Martinez said of the start against the O’s at home in Nationals Park, in which Corbin threw 22% changeups, up from his season average of 8.2%.

“And that was the plan,” Martinez explained. “‘Keep the ball down, use your changeups, use your sliders on occasion, you don’t have to throw many, but just focus on keeping the ball down.’ And he did that. I think he came out the second inning where he started to get the ball up.

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

“We talked to him right away about everything, you pound zone down, down, down. I mean the ball, he’s got a lot more movement when the ball is down and use your changeups. And he was really, really good the rest of the night, so that’s awesome.

“To see Patrick pitch the way he’s been pitching over the last four or five outings,” the fifth-year skipper added, “it’s definitely encouraging moving forward. So I love what he’s doing right now.”

Unfortunately, 12 pitches into his start against the Braves, Corbin tweaked something in his lower back. He fidgeted on the mound, and walked behind it and tried to stretch, which, of course, drew his manager and the Nationals’ trainer out for a talk, and the southpaw didn’t put up much of a fight as they all decided to end the outing two outs into the bottom of the first inning...

Following the game, Martinez told reporters Corbin was dealing with back spasms.

“He threw a pitch and it tightened up on him,” Martinez said. “So we watched him, he started trying to stretch. We went out there and he said it just cramped up on him.

“He couldn’t get loose. He tried to get back on the mound, as he was going back on the mound, he said he couldn’t get loose, so the smart thing to do is just get him out of there.”

“I didn’t feel anything before or going into it,” Corbin said in his own post game scrum with reporters. “It was just the last pitch that I threw it just kind of grabbed on me, and just not quite sure what it is. But just tried to just hang out there as long as I could, maybe see if it went away, just didn’t. Just a little sore now. Hopefully in a couple days it gets better, but I don’t think it’s too serious, just pretty sore and wasn’t able to pitch any more.”

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

“He was throwing the ball really well before he got hurt today,” Martinez added at another point. “He’s been throwing the ball a lot better over the last month.”

“I’ve been feeling really good,” Corbin added, “... so it kind of stinks for this to happen, not quite sure what I could have done differently. Kind of did the same routine, same warm-ups that I usually have done. So, I think tomorrow will probably be pretty sore, then we have an off-day.”

Multi-Hit Meneses:

Joey Meneses struggled a bit at the plate on the Nationals’ recently-completed homestand, going just 3 for 18 with one double and one home run, and finishing things up 0 for 7 in the final two games.

Meneses, Washington’s 30-year-old rookie, made up for it with a four-hit game in the series opener in Atlanta’s Truist Park on Monday night, going 4 for 4 with four singles in the Nats’ 5-2 loss to the Braves, connecting for three of the eight hits starter Kyle Wright allowed on the way to his own 19th win of the season.

“He uses the whole field, he stays on the ball really well,” manager Davey Martinez said of Meneses’s continued success since he made his MLB debut back on August 2nd, following 10 seasons in the minors and playing internationally. “Not afraid to hit with two strikes, so he’s been doing well. He works great at-bats, so I love watching him go up there, love watching hit, but he also does all the right things on defense, and both at first base and in the outfield.”

The four-hit game was the 16th multi-hit game for Meneses in his first 41 games played this season, over which he had a .325/.356/.548 line, 10 doubles, nine homers, eight walks, and 40 Ks in 177 plate appearances before last night.

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

His 54 hits in 41 games, “are the most by any rookie through his first 41 games in franchise history (MON/WSH),” as the Nationals’ highlighted in their pregame notes for the 2nd of 3 with the Braves this week. His manager is thrilled with what he’s done with the opportunity he earned.

“He’s done some really good things in the minor leagues,” Martinez said before Tuesday’s game, as the manager talked more about the impact the well-traveled vet has had on his club, as quoted by MASN’s Paul Mancano.

“He went overseas and played for a while. He comes back here, he endures another season in the minors and gets an opportunity to come in here and fill a need, and he’s running with it.”

“I can’t say enough about what he’s been doing and the kind of character he brings to a ballclub,” Martinez continued.

“All around, he’s been such a blessing for our club. They call him a rookie, but he’s a veteran at heart. And he’s acting that way with some of our young guys.

“It’s fun to go out there and watch him and play. It’s fun to watch him compete, and watch his at-bats. He’s in every at-bat, every pitch. So it’s been good. I’m happy for him.

“Like I said, some guys don’t stick around for that long and make it. He’s one that did, and he’s doing everything he can to stay.”

“I think this kid could be a Gold Glove winner. And you see why.” - Davey Martinez:

Talking Rookies:

Joey Meneses came up again when Davey Martinez was asked in his post game presser on Sunday about working with a 30-year-old rookie like the first baseman/outfielder, and with 21-year-old rookie CJ Abrams as well. They are definitely at different points in their careers, but they’re both rookies on the Nationals’ reboot roster, trying to make the most of the first seasons in the big leagues for each of them.

“It’s a crazy game,” Martinez said. “You look at CJ, he’s a young 21-year-old that can do a lot of different things. He’s getting better every day... he’s got unbelievable range, he’s starting to figure out the whole hitting thing, he’s squaring some balls up. I love him. Joey, like I’ve said, Joey put his time in the minor leagues, figured some things out, and he’s making the best of an opportunity here.”

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

While Abrams brings some flash to the field, with a number of highlight reel-worthy plays in the last few weeks, Meneses, a reporter said, has a more workman-like approach, efficient if not particularly flashy.

“I don’t think Joey is very flashy,” Martinez agreed. “CJ at times can be a little bit, but that’s the youth these days. I love having them both.”

And more important than the spectacular, flashy, plays on defense, the Nats’ skipper said, is the fact that Abrams has been making the routine plays routine.

“100%,” Martinez of the importance of getting those routine outs. “He’s getting his feet in a good position to throw, and that’s something that [Third base/infield coach Gary DiSarcina] has worked with with him, and he’s making it a lot smoother, he’s getting down earlier, and finishing his throw.

“So I love when the ball is hit to him, I really do right now. He’s making everything look fairly easy, and that’s something they work on every day.”