Outfielder Brian Goodwin was again a full participant in the Nationals’ second day of workouts and batting practice on Wednesday as they prepare for the Chicago Cubs in the National League Division Series starting Friday.
Showing no ill effects from the groin strain that sidelined him for over a month, Goodwin made his case for inclusion on the postseason roster.
General manager Mike Rizzo said that Goodwin was able to come back to D.C. after some solid rehab work in West Palm Beach last week.
“The reports down there were good,” Rizzo said. “He’s moving well. He’s run the bases at full speed here. It’s all about now he’s had multiple, multiple at-bats down there in the minor leagues and West Palm, and we’ll have to evaluate his status. Is he a better option than another player? He’s been great for us this season and he’s a guy that if he’s healthy and ready, we’d like to see him on the roster.”
Goodwin said his work in West Palm Beach was meaningful for many reasons. His biggest takeaway was the quality of pitching he received from some of the organization’s best pitchers at instructs. The depth the club has demonstrated throughout the season has been a key to the Nats’ success: whether from substitutions to injuries at the top level, or in this case, quality of pitching from within the system.
“You know we got the brand new beautiful facility down there,” Goodwin said. “It wasn’t too tough to enjoy. It was pretty much like spring training. Drills, fielding, running the bases, the usual stuff. I knocked it out on a daily basis. Got into a good amount of games. Got a lot of ABs. It went good.
“I think ultimately those guys down there in instructs they thought pretty highly of. They were drafted for a reason. They’re just younger. They’re down there, but they got good stuff. They’re working on stuff like we are every day. Just to go down there and see the live arms I think that’s the most important.”
Goodwin had a breakthrough season for the Nats in 2017 with 74 games, 52 more games than he ever had played in the major leagues. He hit 21 doubles, one triple, 13 homers and added 30 RBIs.
His teammate, Trea Turner, who had missed time this season himself with a broken wrist, saw the value Goodwin brings to the club when he is healthy. He makes the case for what Goodwin can do to improve the Nats when he plays.
“Yeah, it’s huge,” Turner said. “You saw what he did in those couple of months where he played. He hit a ton of home runs, led off for us and had good at-bats. I think he’s a tough at-bat for the opposing team. Plays good defense for us, plays all three outfield spots. Just to have a guy like that on the roster is huge. I don’t know what decisions are or what not, but to have him back would be big.”
Goodwin has been set back with a left groin strain since Aug. 14. He admitted today he had no idea it would have taken this long to get back to 100 percent health.
“No, I never did,” Goodwin said. “It’s a big difference between an injury and being hurt. I think after a while we found out it was a little more than we thought. Had to work through it and get back to healthy.”
Goodwin said through all these rehab at-bats this week and in each batting practice, his timing is returning. He pointed toward the volume of plate appearances in simulated games as one key.
“I think I’m on a good place,” Goodwin said. “I got a chance to get a ton of at-bats. A lot of pitchers down there working on stuff trying to get better. I got the opportunity to go down there and see a lot of it and work with a lot of it, so I think my timing is where I want it to be, where I would expect it to be.”
But how about running on the bases, the starting and stopping, and the quick acceleration he would need to track the baseball off the bat in the outfield? Goodwin believes he is back to mid-season form there, too.
“To me, it does. I don’t know how it looks,” Goodwin added. “I hope it looks that way. But when I’m out there, I feel good. I don’t feel like I have to second guess or hesitate or anything like that, just go out and do me.”
So it comes down to Rizzo’s choices for depth in the outfield as to whether Goodwin gets the nod. Alejandro De Aza is also a left-handed bat, as is Andrew Stevenson. Could the Nats look to get by with Adam Lind as another lefty bat, who may not provide the defense they need in the outfield, but certainly offers the average and power? Or would the club offer rookie Victor Robles the chance?