Abrams, García, Winker all sit vs. lefty; Thomas runs bases again

CHICAGO – Ildemaro Vargas was asked if he could remember the last time he batted third.

“Little League,” the Nationals utilityman said, lowering his right hand to a couple feet off the ground as if to show how tall he was at the time. “Unbelievable!”

That streak ends today, because Vargas is batting third for the Nats in their series finale against the White Sox, the focal point of a highly unconventional lineup card Davey Martinez filled out this morning.

With his team playing its third game in 24 hours following Tuesday’s doubleheader, and with a tough left-hander (Garrett Crochet) starting for Chicago, Martinez decided to sit a number of regulars who rarely get a chance to sit. CJ Abrams, Luis García Jr., Jesse Winker and Eddie Rosario will make up today’s bench.

Abrams, in particular, has been a workhorse. He missed three games in early April with a bruised finger, but otherwise has been in the Nationals lineup every day, starting each of the team’s last 31 games. The dynamic shortstop has perhaps started showing signs of wear and tear in recent weeks: After a dominant April that saw him slash .295/.373/.619, he’s cooled off significantly in May, slashing .196/.222/.235.

With Abrams sitting today, rookie Nasim Nuñez makes only his second career start, getting the nod at shortstop. The Rule 5 draftee has been used almost exclusively as a pinch-runner and on Tuesday scored the go-ahead run in the Nationals’ 6-3 win. He actually enters the day with more runs scored (four) than plate appearances taken (three).

With Crochet (who has held left-handed hitters to a .192/.276/.269 slash line this season) starting for the White Sox, Martinez is going with a lineup of entirely right-handed bats.

That includes Vargas not only starting in left field but batting third for the first time in his major league career. Actually, if his memory is accurate, the first time since he was a young child.

* Lane Thomas ran bases on the field before today’s game, the first time the injured outfielder has done that since suffering an MCL sprain in his left knee three weeks ago.

Thomas wasn’t running at 100 percent speed, but he didn’t appear to be far away from that level, an encouraging sign.

The Nats haven’t announced a timetable for Thomas’ return, but he’ll almost certainly go on a minor league rehab assignment once he’s game-ready before coming off the injured list.

As numbers plummet, Ruiz searches for answers
Game 42 lineups: Nats at White Sox

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.masnsports.com/