Abrams sitting, but not concerned about back tightness

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – CJ Abrams is out of the Nationals lineup for the third straight day, the product of a seemingly minor back issue that has plagued him since Tuesday’s game against the Mets.

“My back’s a little tight, but it’s getting better every day,” the 22-year-old shortstop said. “I don’t even think it was a play or anything that happened. Just something over time.”

Neither Abrams nor manager Davey Martinez indicated the issue is anything serious. Abrams said he’s still been able to field, throw and swing: “I can do anything. Just no need to play, I guess.”

Martinez said Abrams could be back in the lineup as soon as Saturday and admitted there wouldn’t be any real concern if this was happening during the regular season: “He could play, probably.”

This brief break comes after Abrams got considerable playing time through the first month of the spring. He’s taken 28 official plate appearances so far, going 7-for-26 with a double, two RBIs and four stolen bases.

Of some concern is Abrams’ continued struggle to draw walks (he has zero to date) while compiling 10 strikeouts. But in the broader sense, the Nationals are pleased with his showing here.

“He’s gotten tons of at-bats already,” Martinez said. “We don’t want this to become a bigger issue. So give him a few days, let him recover a little bit. He’ll probably do some baseball activity today, and then we’ll get him back out there. He’s actually swung the bat pretty good this spring and played really well.”

For Abrams, a few days off in mid-March isn’t cause for concern.

“This one, I just wanted to play it safe,” he said. “It’s spring training. No need to overdo it.”

* The Nationals are still working out rotation plans in the wake of Cade Cavalli’s season-ending elbow tear.

Trevor Williams is slated to start Saturday against the Marlins, but Martinez said Sunday’s starter against the Tigers is still undecided.

That’s the slot previously held by Cavalli, who tore his ulnar collateral ligament throwing a third-inning changeup against the Mets on Tuesday and will undergo Tommy John surgery next week in Dallas.

Martinez has said 30-year-old Chad Kuhl will likely get the first crack at replacing Cavalli, but he also was impressed with 33-year-old Wily Peralta’s performance (three scoreless innings) Thursday night against the Mets.

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