Manager Davey Martinez placed second baseman Howie Kendrick in the No. 2 hole again, his second consecutive start. Martinez said nothing is wrong with Brian Dozier; he just wants to give Kendrick more at-bats, especially coming off yesterday’s dramatic solo homer to give the Nationals a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh.
“He hits a game-winner yesterday,” Martinez said. “Coming out today and let him get some more at-bats. The biggest thing for him is keeping him healthy. Knowing we have a day off tomorrow, too, kind of helps.”
Martinez says Dozier is “good” so it’s just an opportunity to give Kendrick more chances to make a difference. Dozier is hitting .163 with one homer in 11 games over 43 at-bats. Kendrick has two doubles and two homers with four walks and four RBIs and is batting .600 through six games.
* Martinez gave Max Scherzer an extra day to rest his leg. The Nationals ace gets the start today with his team looking for a series win against the Bucs.
“Yeah, I think he’s good to go,” Martinez said. “The extra days definitely helped him. I wanted to make sure he was 100 percent with him and he’s not going out there laboring any part of the game. He said he was good. After his bullpen, he said he felt really good. Just giving him that extra day helps him clear his mind.”
Martinez offered a great anecdote of how competitive Scherzer is in everything he does. Last year before a game in Tampa Bay, Scherzer would take on and beat all comers in the game of Connect 4, whether they were teammates or media. Martinez told the story of his encounter with Scherzer during a workout this week between starts:
“He competes every day,” Martinez said. “When you watch him work out - perfect example, the other day I’m in the weight room and he’s doing wall squats. He says, ‘Give me a number!’ I’m sitting there watching him and saying, ‘What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘How long you want me to squat on the wall for?’ I just threw out there three minutes. He looked at me, ‘Three minutes?’ I said, ‘Yeah!’ He did 3:05. That’s him, competing. He pushes himself to the limit. He does that every day.”
* Juan Soto has had four strikeouts in his last four games, including two Saturday. But Martinez says he’s not concerned about Soto’s whiffs.
“No. He makes adjustments,” Martinez said. “Yesterday, (Pirates starter Chris) Archer was really good. He threw some really good changeups. Knowing Soto, he’s going to come back today and put together some good at-bats and just moves on. He’s aware they’re going to throw him a lot of off speed stuff and he’s just got to make those adjustments.”
Soto is slashing .250/.379/.838 through 48 at-bats.
* Third baseman Anthony Rendon leads the major leagues with 14 extra-base hits. He is third in the major leagues with a .922 slugging percentage and 1.387 OPS. Martinez said Rendon’s key right now is that he’s not trying to move the ball all over the field.
“I think it’s just Rendon being Rendon,” Martinez said. “It’s kind of nice to see it. He’s off to a good start and he’s been hitting the ball well. I think the biggest thing for him is he’s really not trying to do much. He’s trying to stay in the middle of the field and putting together some good at-bats.”
Rendon is slashing .412/.466/.922 in 51 at-bats and bats third in the order again today.