NEW YORK – The Nationals limp into Game 162 of the season with a battered and bruised lineup that won’t include CJ Abrams, Victor Robles or Nelson Cruz.
Abrams and Robles both are sitting after departing games from Tuesday’s doubleheader with injuries. Abrams jammed his left shoulder trying to make a diving catch of a ball at shortstop. Robles felt his right calf tighten up as he ran out a double to deep left field.
Abrams got an MRI this morning, and though he was still waiting for results this afternoon, the rookie said he was feeling better and wasn’t overly concerned about any long-term issue. Robles said his calf still felt a little stiff, so manager Davey Martinez decided not to take a chance with either, even if it means he’s disappointed to write out a depleted lineup card for the final game of the season.
“Oh, absolutely,” he said. “Plus, some of our younger guys, I wanted to continue to see them play, especially the last game. But unfortunately, that’s sometimes how this game rolls. The good news is that they’re both going to be fine moving forward, and they’ll be ready for spring training.”
Also absent from the lineup again is Cruz, who hasn’t played since Sept. 13 due to a left eye infection that never fully healed to the point the 42-year-old was comfortable facing live pitching for fear of blurry vision.
Martinez was still holding out hope Cruz might feel well enough to take one at-bat as a pinch-hitter this afternoon, not knowing what the future holds for him, but as with the others doesn’t want to any unnecessary risks at this stage.
“I know he’s been swinging in the cage,” Martinez said. “I’ll talk to him today to see how he feels. It would be nice to get him one at-bat today if we can. But I’m going to make sure when he leaves here, he’s not going to have any injury. We’ll see how that plays out.”
All of that leaves the Nationals with only 11 healthy position players, and a two-man bench made up entirely of backup catchers. With rookie Israel Pineda starting behind the plate today, Riley Adams and Tres Barrera are Martinez’s only options off the bench. Adams has played some first base if an emergency arrived. César Hernández, who is starting at third base, could move to the outfield if necessary. And Lane Thomas, starting in right field, would be the emergency infielder in a worst-case scenario.