MILWAUKEE – The Nationals intended all along for Ehire Adrianza to hold a key role on their opening day roster, serving as something of a super-utilityman for the club who could bounce around between multiple positions and give regulars some days off along the way.
But when Adrianza strained his left quadriceps during the final week of spring training, those plans had to be put on ice for a while. At last, though, the Nats have reason to believe he’s close to joining the active roster and making the difference they thought he would from the outset.
Adrianza has been playing in simulated games in Florida over the last week or so, and most recently played seven innings with no significant issues, manager Davey Martinez said before tonight’s game against the Brewers.
That means the 32-year-old is just about ready to go on a minor league rehab assignment, the final step before he’s activated off the injured list.
“He’s been playing three innings, four innings, five innings. We’ve built him up now to seven innings,” Martinez said. “Now he feels good, so we’re going to send him out shortly.”
Adrianza opened the season on the 10-day IL but was transferred to the 60-day IL once it became clear he was going to miss significant time. That means he’s not eligible to make his season debut until at least June 3, giving him almost two weeks to play in minor league games and get himself back into full playing shape.
“We’ll get him a bunch of at-bats, because he’s missed a lot of time,” Martinez said. “We’re going to get him a bunch of at-bats, and when it’s his time to come off, he’ll be ready to play.”
Adrianza has played all over the field during his nine-year career with the Giants, Twins and Braves. He’s spent more time at shortstop (177 games) than anything, but he also has considerable experience at third base (111 games), in addition to second base (85 games), first base (35 games), left field (29 games), right field (20 games) and center field (one game). (He also pitched twice for Minnesota during blowouts.)
Martinez said Adrianza has mostly played shortstop during these recent simulated games in West Palm Beach, but he has also gotten work at third and second base. Once he joins the Nationals, he figures to see action at all of those positions, giving Alcides Escobar, Maikel Franco and César Hernández more opportunities to take days off.
“I’m looking forward to getting him back, because he’s a guy who can play short, play some third and even play some second or outfield,” the manager said. “He’s done everything. I’m glad he’s feeling better and playing, so we’re going to get him out on a rehab assignment soon.”