Nats throw Sanchez right into lineup, hope Bautista stays hot

SAN FRANCISCO - With Shawn Kelley headed to the disabled list, but two workhorses starting the final games of this road trip in advance of an off-day, the Nationals decided to go with an extra bench player tonight and Wednesday against the Giants.

Adiran Sanchez Matt Reyndolds high five.jpgThat led to the recalls today of infielder Adrian Sanchez and outfielder Rafael Bautista from Triple-A, the two taking the roster spots previously held by Kelley and infielder Matt Reynolds (who was optioned to Syracuse).

And manager Davey Martinez didn’t waste any time throwing Sanchez into his lineup. The 27-year-old is at third base, batting seventh tonight against Giants left-hander Ty Blach.

“Sanchez has been playing every day, swinging the bat well,” Martinez said. “Wanted to get Matt playing again, just give him some more playing time. He was just sitting and getting stale. We thought he should go down and play and get some at-bats.”

Reynolds was just 1-for-12 since joining the Nationals roster April 7. Sanchez, meanwhile, was hitting .286 with a .349 on-base percentage to begin the season at Syracuse. He also got some experience playing regularly for the Nationals last summer, filling in at all three infield positions when others were injured.

He has more experience at third base than Wilmer Difo, who has been at the hot corner each of the last eight games with Anthony Rendon sidelined.

“Difo’s done well over there,” said Martinez, who was critical of one ill-advised throw to the plate during Monday’s 4-2 loss. “I just wanted to get (Sanchez) in the game today, give Difo a blow. He’s been playing a lot. Difo will be back in there tomorrow.”

Primarily a second baseman through his minor league career, Sanchez has played more shortstop and third base in recent years. He actually wound up seeing more time at third for the Nationals last season (58 innings) than second (51 1/3) or shortstop (35).

“I’ve been playing all three positions down at Triple-A, and I believe I feel most comfortable at third right now,” he said, via interpreter Octavio Martinez. “So I feel very comfortable going out there.”

Bautista isn’t in tonight’s lineup, but Martinez will try to get him at at-bat, hoping to take advantage of the hot bat he was swinging in Syracuse before his promotion. The 25-year-old was hitting .429 with a .966 OPS over 45 plate appearances with the Chiefs.

“I’ve been working on the strike zone and my swing a lot,” Bautista said. “I’m getting better and better every game.”

Kelley, meanwhile, will sit out at least 10 days on the DL with irritation of the ulnar nerve in his pitching elbow, an ailment he has dealt with before. Given his history of elbow injuries, including two Tommy John surgeries, the Nationals will take their time bringing the 33-year-old back.

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