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Washington Nationals news & notes: CJ Abrams hits 2nd vs ATL; Joey Meneses hunting; Yadiel Hernandez update

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s recent media availability...

100-Loss Seasons “Suck”:

For the first time since 2009, and third time since 2005, the Washington Nationals are a 100-loss ballclub. The 2022 team hit triple-digits in losses in the series opener with their divisional rivals from Atlanta, dropping an 8-0 decision in D.C., with Braves’ starter Bryce Elder tossing a complete game shutout on 106 pitches.

Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez was blunt when asked for his thoughts on losing the 100th game of the season in the 153rd game.

“It sucks, right?” Martinez asked rhetorically.

New York Mets v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

“We all know it sucks, but we got to remember what we’re trying to do here, right? And it’s gonna be a process. So moving forward, hopefully, this will be the last year we lose 100 games and we get better. And that’s the goal is to get better. Get our young kids better. And when they come up in spring, get them ready to compete and try to win as many games as possible.”

“But nobody should be happy losing 100 games. It’s tough, and I know those guys feel it. But like I said, I cannot say enough about how those guys go out and play. They play hard and they are getting better. I see all our young guys getting better. So we got we got to continue to just finish the season off and be ready to go next spring.”

With the organization where it is at this point of the reboot/rebuild, there are young players on the big league roster getting important experience at least.

“Absolutely. I mean, these guys are young, they’re playing in the major leagues, so they’re getting tons of experience,” Martinez said. “They’re getting tons of coaching. So they can learn a lot, especially with some of these teams that we’re playing now that are headed to the playoffs. Watch, learn, observe, because one day that’s going to be us.”

Abrams Up To No. 2:

CJ Abrams went 6 for 10 in Miami, with a four-hit game in the Nationals’ one win in three in the Marlins’ home, and for the series opener in Washington, D.C. last night, Davey Martinez gave his shortstop a small reward for his recent success, bumping him up to No. 2 in the lineup for the first time, after talking about eventually doing so when the club first called Abrams up from Triple-A in mid-August.

Two of his three hits in Sunday’s win came on changeups, on which he has just a .227 AVG now, but Martinez said he’s handled offspeed stuff well recently.

“He’s staying on the ball really well,” the Nats’ manager explained. “He’s not trying to do too much. He’s really trying to stay in the middle of the field, when you do that, and you get a changeup, you can stay on the ball a little longer, and he’s hit a couple balls down the line. He’s having good at-bats, which is good. He’s really trying to cut down on his chase. And he’s done a lot better with that, and it’s given him an opportunity to get better pitches to hit.”

Part of his recent success, the skipper suggested, has to do with getting more comfortable and confident with time up with his new team, after he was acquired from San Diego in the Juan Soto/Josh Bell deal with the Padres at the trade deadline in early August.

“Definitely both ... a little bit of comfort, a little bit of confidence. He’s playing well. And like I said, we’re allowing him to play the game,” Martinez told reporters, “... but with that being said, we have teaching moments where we’re trying to teach him how to do things the right way. He’s been really good. He really has been. He’s been very intuitive on everything we’ve asked him to do.

“He’s actually been really good with Luis [García] as well, as far as moving him, and getting him to be ready every pitch.

Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

“He’s done everything we asked him to do, and like I said, I think this kid’s going to get way better.”

Overall, in 35 games and 129 PAs with the Nationals before last night’s series opener with the Braves in D.C., Abrams had a .248/.271/.328 line, but in September, his three-hit game against the Marlins had him at .307/.316/.427, and his manager decided now was a good time to move him up closer to the top of the lineup after he’d hit 6-9 in his first month and a half with the team.

“He’s really trying hard to control his chasing, he’s doing a lot better job throughout his at-bats, so I thought we’ll get him up there and see how he does,” Martinez said, while noting he wasn’t too concerned about switching things up when Abrams was going so well.

“Yeah, but like I said, we talked about this, we also talked a lot about what he needs to do to get on base, and situational hitting stuff,” Martinez said, “and as you can see, he’s been trying to lay down some more bunts and just really trying to get on base and he’s done a good job, so I think for me it kind of rewards him a little bit for his efforts to try to do the right thing.”

It also provides a glimpse (in a season full of them) of what the future might look like with the shortstop hitting up high in the order.

“We talked a lot about what we feel like he needs to do. He’s worked diligently with Six and DC [Hitting coaches Pat Roessler and Darnell Coles] in the cage, and you can see it paying off in the games. He’s really hitting the ball good, and he’s making good, solid contact,” his manager said.

“So I thought we play at home today, why not give him an opportunity to go up there and honestly kind of give us a little bit more up at the top as far as speed and getting on base, and the little things that he does well.”

Meneses’s Ambushes:

Joey Meneses jumped on a first-pitch sinker inside from Sandy Alcantara on Saturday night, and hit the 99 MPH pitch (which was a baseball’s width off middle-middle) 360 ft. the other way for his 11th home run of the season, and he followed up with a leadoff blast in the series finale in Miami on Sunday afternoon, hitting a 95 MPH fastball 405 ft. to center field in Marlins Park, for his 12th home run in 46 games and 200 plate appearances since making his MLB debut back on August 2nd. That pitch was pretty much right down the middle.

“When he gets ready and he’s on time, he’s ready to hit any pitch,” manager Davey Martinez said after Meneses went 11 for 25 (.440/.482/.880) with two doubles and three home runs in six games on the road trip to Atlanta and Miami.

“And for us his last couple days, we’ve preached a lot that with these guys pitching, we’ve got to be ready early, and try to get a ball in the strike zone early, last two days, he’s done that.”

Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals

He might not see too many more first-pitch fastballs if he’s going to keep clobbering them, but pitchers do want to get ahead of him Martinez said, and Meneses has jumped on ‘em.

“I hope that he does that,” the fifth-year skipper said. “It’s nice to be patient and everything, but especially with guys on base, you want to go up there and try to swing the bat, and get a good pitch to hit, and like I said, he did it again tonight, yesterday he did it, tonight he did it again.”


Washington’s Nationals placed outfielder Yadiel Hernández on the 10-Day Injured List back on August 20th, (retroactive to August 19th), with a left calf strain, then announced before their game with the Cincinnati Reds in D.C. in late August, they were transferring their 34-year-old slugger to the 60-Day IL, effectively acknowledging the end of his third season in D.C.

In 94 games and 327 plate appearances before the injury, Hernández, who’s going to turn 35 soon, went 82 for 305 for a .269/.312/.410 line with 16 doubles, nine homers, 19 walks, and 74 Ks on the season.

We hadn’t heard much about the outfielder since late August, but his manager, Davey Martinez, provided an update over the weekend, while the club played three with the Marlins in Miami.

“He’s actually done really well,” Martinez said of how Hernández has handled his rehab over the last month.

St. Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

“He’s actually — he’s going to stay here in Miami now, there’s not much he can do anymore, so we’re going to get him ready. I’m going to talk to him, but he mentioned something about playing winter ball just so he can get back and get a few at-bats before this is all said and done. But look, I love Yadi. I love what he’s done, he’s definitely gotten better. He can hit, as we all know, he’s gotten better in the outfield, so it’s just getting him healthy, and getting him ready for Spring Training.”

With a little over a week left, Martinez explained, it made more sense for the outfielder to stay behind near his home and continue the work he’s been doing since landing on the IL.

“I talked to him about it. His family is actually here. He’s worked diligently, he’s starting to do a lot of agility stuff now, he feels good,” the manager said. “So, I said — he’s got a place here to work out that he works out in the winter time, so he’s going to continue his rehab and just stay home and work out, and we’ll talk to him periodically, keep tabs on what he’s done, but try to get ready for Spring Training now.”

Where does Hernández fit in the outfield mix going forward? In 84 games he started, he put up a .272/.316/.416 line. He went 3 for 10 in limited plate appearances as a pinch hitter. He’s, as mentioned above, about to turn 35. Do you see him playing a role on the 2023 roster?