CJ Abrams’ Rough Day:
CJ Abrams had a rough day at the park on Thursday afternoon, committing three errors (1 fielding & 2 throwing) in the Nationals’ season opening 7-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves in the nation’s capital.
So, yeah, it was not an ideal start to the 2023 campaign for Washington’s 22-year-old infielder, who was acquired last season in the blockbuster Juan Soto (and Josh Bell) deal with San Diego’s Padres. But it’s also not something the club expects to see a repeat of going forward.
Abrams’ manager, Davey Martinez, acknowledged after the opener there were some nerves for a few members of the ballclub, some of whom were playing in their first Opening Day game.
“I could tell you now, they were a little bit nervous,” Martinez said.
“I was nervous. It’s part of it. So we get the bugs out of the way ... and we come back on Saturday and play baseball.”
The shortstop agreed the circumstances involved with Opening Day may have played a role.
“A little bit, maybe,” Abrams said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, when asked. “But there’s no excuses. I’ve got to be better.”
There were a number of plays early in the game on which players from both clubs battled the sun, which is something Martinez brought up when asked about Abrams’ fielding error in the second, on a potential double play which could have ended the top of the inning for the Nationals and their starter, Patrick Corbin.
“I talked to CJ after the double play should have happened. Look, I’m going to be honest with you, they had a tough time seeing the ball as well. He didn’t see the ball off the bat,” Martinez explained.
“But I told him, ‘Hey, we play day games here. Those are plays that we need to make.’”
The second error was on a high throw in the top of the fifth. Martinez said Abrams sat back on the ball in that instance, when he should have charged it.
“I think he’s got to come get the ball,” the manager told reporters. “He tried to stay back and then he had to rush his throw, I mean, you got to know who’s running, and like I said earlier, these are going to be growing pains we have. They’re teaching moments.
“We’re going to teach them, we’ve got to get them to understand.”
Abrams was 0 for 4 with a strikeout at the plate in the opener, but Martinez said he didn’t worry about the rough day weighing on his young shortstop, or that he would press after making mistakes in the opener.
“He won’t do that,” Martinez said. “He’s a kid that — he works hard, he understands the game. He’ll put that [behind] him, and like I said, he’ll be talked to. I talked to him already. But we’ll keep working with him, keep talking to him, but he’s just got to understand situations, he’s got to understand that the game is fast, right? The game is fast here. He’s got to know who’s running. He’s got to anticipate that he’s going to get the ball and where he’s going to throw right away. This is something a young kid needs to work on and be consistent with.”
Abrams’ third error occurred when he cut off a throw in from Lane Thomas in right field, and threw one right by third base trying for an out, allowing the final run of the game to score, making it 7-2 Braves.
“Maybe I rushed them,” Abrams said of his throwing errors, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jessica Camerarto. “On the play at third, I probably should have held it. But it happens.”
MOAR POINTS PLEEZE!:
The Nationals scored two runs in the season opener, with Alex Call bringing in Dominic Smith with a sac fly in the second, and Joey Meneses hitting a two-out RBI single in the home half of the fifth, driving Victor Robles in from third base, but overall, as a team, Martinez’s club went a combined 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position and nine runners left on in what was a two-run game into the ninth inning.
Opportunities with runners in scoring position and less than two outs are something the Nationals’ manager has talked about endlessly as something they have to excel at if their club is going to be successful going forward.
“Those are very important,” the Nats’ skipper said after the loss.
“Like I said, those are the little things that we need to do.
“Those runs, we got to capitalize on driving those runs in, especially with less than two outs.
“We talk a lot about moving the baseball, we’ve got to do that.”
Martinez said in the immediate aftermath of the game he and the team would move on and prepare for Game No. 2 of 162 today.
“It’s one game, right?,” he asked rhetorically. “So we’ll forget about this one. We’ve got a day off tomorrow to get to rest a little bit, we’ll come back Saturday and try to go 1-0 Saturday.”
There were some positives to pull from the game for the sixth-year manager though.
“I saw Victor play really, really well,” he said. “Our bullpen for the most part threw the ball exceptionally well. Mason [Thompson] threw the ball really really well. I was proud of that. Like I said, we’re going to have some moments where — they’re young and they’re going to learn, but we got to come back, get back after it — I’m not going to get down on these guys, I can tell you that.
“These guys work really hard. We’re going to see some good things. And we’re going to see some not-so-good things, but we got to keep playing. Keep their heads up high and keep playing hard.”