New contract secured, Martinez focuses on future success

davey martinez blue

NEW YORK – After an exhausting, exhilarating Sunday in Williamsport, Davey Martinez was looking forward to a relaxing Monday off in Manhattan before his Nationals opened a three-game series against the Yankees. It wound up being an exhilarating day in its own right, complete with an evening celebration with family members after he signed a two-year contract extension to remain this club’s manager through at least the 2025 season, potentially more.

“It’s a blessing for me and my family to be able to do what I love,” Martinez said today after the signing was officially announced. “And actually to be doing a lot better with it right now, with the way the guys have been playing. I really believe the future is bright here for us. I’m excited about that.”

Martinez had been working on the final year of his current contract, unsure if he’d have to wait until September or even October to learn his fate. When he got the word from longtime agent Alan Nero on Monday, though, he was elated to know the question wouldn’t linger any longer.

Martinez’s deal includes two guaranteed years, plus a club option for 2026, according to a source familiar with the contract. Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but the 58-year-old is making $3.5 million this season, his sixth as Nationals manager.

Originally hired in November 2017 to take over a franchise that had won four recent division titles but had yet to win a postseason series, Martinez led the Nats through a frustrating 2018 season and then a 19-31 start to the 2019 season before guiding that star-laden roster to a World Series title. Two years later, that roster began to be dismantled, the organization embarking on a full-scale rebuild that bottomed out in 2022 with a club-record 107 losses.

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Game 126 lineups: Nats at Yankees

gray pitches grey

NEW YORK – After an eventful day in Williamsport and then an eventful off-day in New York, the Nationals get back to work tonight with the opener of a three-city trip that will take them up and down the East Coast and even across international borders.

It begins tonight at Yankee Stadium, where the home team is in a freefall, having lost eight in a row, falling four games under .500 and 9 1/2 games out of the American League wild card race. Yes, the Nats are closer to a playoff berth (eight games) than the Yankees. Strange times, indeed.

Davey Martinez (whose new two-year contract was officially announced today) has a lineup loaded with eight right-handed bats, including Carter Kieboom, who makes his first appearance in a big league game since 2021. He’s also got both Keibert Ruiz and Riley Adams in the lineup together, something we’re seeing most of the time now when the Nats are facing a lefty like Carlos Rodón.

Josiah Gray, meanwhile, makes his first career start at Yankee Stadium, just a stone’s throw away from his childhood home in New Rochelle. The young right-hander has been teetering a bit in recent outings. He’ll surely be motivated tonight, but the Nationals need quality from him.

Where: Yankee Stadium
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM,
Weather: Partly cloudy, 77 degrees, wind 7 mph in from left field

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What Monday's news says about the state of the Nationals

Rizzo and Martinez

Even before the Nationals went on a 23-14 run that has reinvigorated the franchise and its fans after 3 1/2 years of losing, Davey Martinez and Mike Rizzo’s fates seemed secure.

Maybe the on-field results at the major league level weren’t exemplary but take a step back and consider the bigger picture. Was the Lerner family, still controlling the club for the foreseeable future, really going to make changes at the manager and general manager positions at this point?

You can certainly find faults with Martinez as a manager, though there are a number of reasons to praise the job he’s done as well. But considering the roster he was given since the rebuild began in July 2021, were you really going to blame him for the Nats’ won-loss record?

And you can certainly find faults with Rizzo as a GM, most notably his team’s inability to draft and develop players who have turned into quality big leaguers over a not-insignificant stretch. But likewise, there are plenty of reasons to applaud the job he’s done, especially when it came to acquiring both quantity and quality in the two biggest trades he’s made in his career.

Besides, once the Nationals were clearly embarking on a rebuild that figured to take several years to complete, how could you reasonably evaluate their GM before giving him a chance to see that process all the way through?

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Source: Martinez has new deal, Rizzo working toward one

Mike Rizzo Davey Martinez 2019 NLCS

The Nationals’ recent turnaround on the field appears to have convinced ownership to address the biggest off-the-field issue that has been looming over the club all summer: Davey Martinez and Mike Rizzo are getting new contracts.

Martinez has already agreed to a two-year deal that includes a third-year option, and Rizzo is close to finalizing a deal of similar length, a source familiar with the terms confirmed. The Athletic was first to report the news.

Both Martinez and Rizzo were working under contracts set to expire at season’s end, the club having previously picked up their 2023 options last summer. The uncertain status of the Lerner family’s attempt to sell the franchise left the fates of its longtime manager and general manager in limbo, but with the clock ticking and no evidence a sale is imminent, it increasingly felt like a foregone conclusion both would be brought back.

The Nationals’ recent on-field performance, both at the big league and minor league levels, only bolstered the cases for both Martinez and Rizzo. The major league team has won seven of its last nine series, five of those against playoff contenders, and is 23-14 since July 8, the third-best record in the National League during that span.

A farm system that has been overhauled in the last 24 months both via major trades and the draft, meanwhile, now ranks as the sport’s eighth-best after consistently ranking near the bottom for several years. Recent first-round pick Dylan Crews was just promoted to Double-A Harrisburg after dominating in 14 games at Single-A Fredericksburg, and he’ll now join fellow top prospects James Wood, Brady House and Robert Hassell III in a potent Senators lineup, all four of them potentially ready to debut in Washington sometime next season.

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A day the Nationals (and Little Leaguers) will never forget

Josiah Gray LLWS

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Every member of the Nationals’ traveling party arrived here Sunday morning with some personal expectation what the experience would be like. And every one of them left town at the end of the night with the same reaction: It was nothing like they expected it to be. It was so much more than that.

CJ Abrams: “Growing up and watching Little League, and actually getting to go to the field, it’s a lot more exciting than you think it is.”

Josiah Gray: “A lot bigger than I expected. Because on TV, you see just the field and some of the crowd. But to see the field itself and how big the stands were, along with how expansive the hill was, it was huge.”

Kyle Finnegan: “It was pretty crazy. A lot of kids, a lot of fans.”

Davey Martinez: “It blew me away. TV doesn’t do it any justice of what it is. I was amazed.”

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Nats score early, hold down Phillies in Little League Classic (updated)

Keibert Ruiz Little League Classic

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – As he sat in the dugout at tiny, historic Bowman Field this afternoon, watching his team take the field for batting practice, Davey Martinez considered what participation in the MLB Little League Classic meant for the Nationals.

Most of these players had never been in a nationally televised game before. Certainly none of them had played in a game in a setting like this, with an invitation-only crowd of 2,473 made up of Little League World Series competitors, their families and other locals packing themselves into this rustic minor league ballpark.

This whole day, which began with a fun-filled tour of the nearby Little League World Series complex, was a big deal for the Nationals. But there was also an actual major league game to play, and in it a chance for this fast-growing team to show just how far it has come in a short amount of time.

That made the Nats’ 4-3 victory over the Phillies all the more special. Yeah, the specific details were important to the individuals who performed well, none more so than Trevor Williams, who tossed six scoreless innings of two-hit ball to save a weary bullpen. But this was important for the franchise as a whole, a chance to show a larger audience what fans back in D.C. have already picked up on: These guys are playing really good baseball right now.

"It's been really good," catcher Keibert Ruiz said. "We have a really good family in the clubhouse, and we believe we can play good against a really good team like the Philadelphia Phillies. All the teams."

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Source: Crews to Harrisburg, Morales and Pinckney to Wilmington

Dylan Crews Fredericksburg

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – As they showcase themselves before a national audience for the first time this season, the Nationals are moving their top picks from this summer’s draft a step closer to the big league stage, including a big jump for their No. 1 prospect.

The Nats are promoting outfielder Dylan Crews to Double-A Harrisburg, a source familiar with the decision confirmed, after the No. 2 overall pick dominated at Single-A Fredericksburg in his professional debut.

Crews hit a robust .351 with five homers, 24 RBIs and a 1.073 OPS in only 13 games with Fredericksburg, proving more than capable of competing at that level only months after he led LSU to the College World Series title.

The fact the Nationals are bumping Crews up to Double-A, skipping the High-A level altogether, underscores how advanced they believe he is, not to mention how soon they believe the 21-year-old could be big league ready.

Crews will join a Harrisburg lineup already loaded with top prospects, including outfielders James Wood and Robert Hassell III and third baseman Brady House.

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Kieboom, Thompson rejoin roster for Little League Classic

Carter Kieboom blue throwing

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Tonight’s MLB Little League Classic offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Nationals to both experience the Little League World Series in person and then play in a nationally televised game in the most intimate setting they’ll ever have in the major leagues.

For two players, it also marks a welcome return to the big league roster.

Mason Thompson and Carter Kieboom were added to the Nats roster today, Thompson activated off the 15-day injured list to take the bullpen slot that opened up when Cory Abbott was optioned to Triple-A Rochester, Kieboom recalled from Rochester to serve as the designated 27th man for this special game.

Thompson returns after an IL stint of exactly 15 days due to a left knee contusion. The right-hander returns after making one rehab appearance for Double-A Harrisburg on Thursday, during which he tossed a scoreless inning on nine pitches.

Given the heavy usage of their bullpen this week, the Nationals couldn’t afford to activate Thompson before he was ready to be used in full capacity. He insisted to them he was ready for the workload.

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Game 125 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies in Williamsport

Trevor Williams red

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Hello from Muncy Bank Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field, the longtime home of the minor league Williamsport Crosscutters and home tonight of the MLB Little League Classic between the Nationals and Phillies.

For the first time in club history, the Nats are playing in a neutral-site location, selected last year to participate in the sixth edition of the Little League Classic. They are still considered the home team, so they’ll bat last just like the game was being played back in D.C.

It’s already been a long and exciting day, with both teams arriving at the local airport to awaiting kids and media members, then spending a couple hours at the actual Little League World Series just a few miles away from here. Much of tonight’s very small crowd will be comprised of those Little Leaguers, so it should make for a very different environment than any of these big leaguers are used to.

As for the actual game, the Nationals are looking to bounce back from Saturday’s game, which they led 3-0 in the seventh and saw fall apart before their eyes as an overworked bullpen finally crumbled. The good news: All the top relievers should be available to pitch tonight if the situation calls for it.

To get there, they’ll first need a better start out of Trevor Williams, who has struggled big-time of late. The right-hander gave up five runs via three homers and threw 93 pitches in 4 1/3 innings against the Athletics his last time out. Prior to that, he gave up six runs via three homers and threw 103 pitches in 4 2/3 innings against the same Phillies lineup he’ll face tonight.

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With confidence and swagger, Machado rising to occasion

andres machado throws red

As he sauntered off the mound, having just struck out a $300 million hitter to strand the bases loaded and preserve a two-run lead for his team, Andrés Machado looked every bit the part of an established, high leverage, big league reliever. He did not look anything like a guy who had been designated for assignment by the Nationals twice in the last year.

How far Machado has come in a short amount of time, having survived a roller coaster of a season to emerge now as one of the Nats’ most trusted arms to get big outs late in games. And none was as big as the one he got Friday night during an 8-7 victory over the Phillies.

Summoned out of the bullpen with two on, one out and the middle of the order coming up in the top of the seventh, Machado proceeded to strike out Nick Castellanos before walking Bryson Stott to load the bases and bring Trea Turner to the plate.

Turner may be having a hugely disappointing debut season in Philadelphia after signing a monster contract, but the former Nationals star is still capable of changing a game with one swing. So when Machado got ahead in the count 1-2 and then got Turner to whiff at a slider, he reacted the only way he knew how: Walking off the mound like a guy who believes he’s the best.

“I was getting ready for the moment,” he said. “I’ve been pitching in that kind of situation, and I just prepared myself for that situation. I tried to do my best, and I saved that run.”

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Nats storm back early, bullpen holds on late to beat Phillies (updated)


There was juice at Nationals Park tonight, the kind of energy that comes not merely from a large crowd but from a highly competitive game between an opponent trying to reach the World Series for the second straight year and a home team trying to prove to everyone they’re not as far away from reaching that goal as most would’ve believed not long ago.

A crowd of 26,747 that included a healthy amount of Phillies fans roared when the Nationals took an early lead off Michael Lorenzen, foiling his unlikely bid for a second straight no-hitter. It roared when the Phillies put up a six-spot in the top of the fourth to take what looked like a commanding lead. It roared when the Nats fought right back to score six runs of their own in the bottom of the inning and re-take the lead. And it roared as a parade of Nationals relievers held on to finish off a thoroughly enjoyable 8-7 victory and continue a thoroughly convincing turnaround over the last month.

Thanks to CJ Abrams’ three-run homer and lights-out work from a bullpen that looks better each passing day, the Nats won for the 15th time in their last 18 home games. They’re 18-9 since July 21. And they continue to beat good teams, often through a surge of power and late-inning heroics.

"We always tell each other we're going to surprise some people," Abrams said. "I think we've done that. And we're going to keep going and see what happens."

Why wouldn’t the assembled crowd on South Capitol Street tonight feel the energy and embrace a rebuilding home ballclub that is trying to expedite the timeline for a return to the kind of success that used to be the norm around here?

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Flurry of rehab appearances for injured Nats relievers

edwards pitching white

It’s purely a coincidence of timing that so many injured Nationals relievers were ready to begin rehab assignments within days of each other. Intentional or not, the team is more than happy to monitor a bunch of these assignments, knowing each pitcher is getting close to returning to the active roster.

Mason Thompson and Carl Edwards Jr. got the process started, each tossing a scoreless inning of relief Thursday. Tanner Rainey will make his rehab debut tonight, hours after Thaddeus Ward pitched in West Palm Beach.

Thompson tossed a 1-2-3 inning for Double-A Harrisburg, striking out one and throwing seven of his nine pitches for strikes. The right-hander, out since Aug. 2 with a left knee contusion, is scheduled to return to make another appearance Sunday, ideally building up to 20-to-25 pitches.

Edwards also threw a perfect inning of relief, with six of his 12 pitches for strikes with Single-A Wilmington. The right-hander, out since June 20 with shoulder inflammation, is going to need more time on his assignment considering how long he’s been out. He’s next scheduled to pitch Saturday.

“He’s been out a little longer,” manager Davey Martinez said. “For me, it’s like spring training all over with him. I want to get him this outing tomorrow, see how that goes, and then possibly two or three more after. … But he said he felt way better yesterday.”

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Game 123 lineups: Nats vs. Phillies

CJ Abrams runs smiles white walkoff

The Nationals faced Michael Lorenzen nine days ago, and it didn’t exactly go so well for them. Like, they didn’t even record a hit off the Phillies right-hander, who became the first pitcher to ever throw a no-hitter against the Nats since they arrived in D.C.

So wouldn’t you know Lorenzen’s next start would just so happen to come tonight against the same team he no-hit in Philly? Yes, after getting some extra rest, Lorenzen returns tonight and will attempt to do what only Johnny Vander Meer has ever done in major league history. The chances of him doing it again are awfully slim. Still, it would be nice if the Nationals could just get one early hit and not even let the thought of it creep into anyone’s head.

Joan Adon takes the mound for the Nats, and it will be interesting to see how the right-hander handles the situation. He departed his last start with leg cramps, something he also experienced at the end of his dominant start in Cincinnati, and Davey Martinez said they might try an old-school remedy in advance of this outing to combat the issue: pickle juice. We’ll see if it works.

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM,
Weather: Partly cloudy, 88 degrees, wind 10 mph out to left field

SS CJ Abrams
CF Lane Thomas
DH Joey Meneses
C Keibert Ruiz
1B Dominic Smith
RF Stone Garrett
2B Jake Alu
3B Ildemaro Vargas
LF Blake Rutherford

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Hot-hitting Garrett earning everyday playing time

Stone Garrett

There was a time earlier this year when Davey Martinez would go out of his way to avoid having Stone Garrett face a right-hander. Garrett was one-half of the Nationals’ left field platoon, and he was only going to match up against those opposing pitchers he figured to have the most success against.

How far he’s come. These days, it doesn’t matter who’s on the mound. No matter which arm the pitcher uses, Garrett is going to find himself at the plate.

“He’s going to get an opportunity,” Martinez said. “He’s earned the right to play right now.”

Garrett is playing a lot right now, far more than he has at any previous point in the season. Thursday marked his sixth straight game in the Nats lineup, even though three of those games were started by right-handers.

The Nationals never really envisioned this, but circumstances have brought them to this point. Garrett didn’t even make the Opening Day roster, losing out to Alex Call for the fourth outfielder’s job. But when Corey Dickerson suffered a calf injury only two days in, Garrett was called up from Triple-A Rochester. And he’s remained here ever since.

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Nats win another series and match last year's win total (updated)

downs runs white

There are far loftier goals on the Nationals’ checklist, certainly once the calendar flips to 2024. This is a franchise that won’t consider the rebuild it embarked on two years ago a true success until it’s playing in October again.

But it takes steps to get there, and today the Nats took a meaningful step on their projected path back to contention: With a 10-7 victory over the Red Sox that proved far more tenuous than it should have been, they secured their 55th win, matching their total from last season with 40 games still remaining on the schedule.

Nobody ever deemed another 55-107 season acceptable. Improvement was always expected this year. But at this rate, the improvement is going to be significant, the kind not often found from one year to the next.

The Nats are now on pace for 73 wins this season, an 18-game improvement. That would match the best one-year improvement in club history, one that came from 2011-12 when an 80-win upstart turned into a 98-win division champion.

"It's fun, because I preach all the time about keeping things simple, doing the little things," manager Davey Martinez said. "The baserunning. Throwing strikes. Getting outs. Playing good defense. And it's come to fruition. When you can do those things, you have a chance to win consistently. And we've been doing that for the last month. It's been a lot of fun."

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Still injured, Robles running out of time to return in 2023

robles cherry

Victor Robles wandered through the Nationals clubhouse Wednesday afternoon, a familiar face but in many ways a forgotten one.

It’s been nearly two months since Robles last played, and he has appeared in only five games since early May, a persistent back injury having sidelined him for the better part of the season now. And given the lack of progress he’s made to date, time may be running out for him to make it back in 2023.

“I worry that we’re definitely getting closer to … I mean, he’s still got to go out and rehab,” manager Davey Martinez said. “He’s got to play. He’s missed a lot. But hopefully we can get him playing again before this year’s up. That will be the goal.”

Robles initially hurt himself sliding into second base on May 6 in Arizona and spent the next six weeks on the injured list. His return to the active roster was short-lived, with only five games played in mid-June before it became clear he wasn’t fully healthy yet and needed to go back on the IL.

The 26-year-old has split his time between D.C. and West Palm Beach, Fla., getting treatment and doing what he can to try to get better. But it’s still an extremely limited rehab program.

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Game 122 lineups: Nats vs. Red Sox

corbin v. MIA

The Nationals have already gone 4-1 on this homestand. They’ve got a chance to add to that today and reach a significant milepost for the season. Their next win will be No. 55, which would match their 2022 total. Yeah, there are still 40 games to go after today. That would be quite the accomplishment by mid-August.

It’s a couple of veteran left-handers who have seen better days on the mound against each other. Patrick Corbin enters with a 4.85 ERA and league-high 162 hits allowed, but he comes off a really weird start in Philadelphia in which he walked a career-high seven batters but allowed only one (unearned) run on one hit over five innings. He’ll need to be more around the strike zone today to have a chance against Boston.

Chris Sale, meanwhile, enters with a 4.52 ERA and only returned last week from a two-month stint on the injured list. The 34-year-old was good in his return, though, holding the Tigers to two runs on one hit while striking out seven in 4 2/3 innings.

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 4:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM,
Weather: Partly cloudy, 88 degrees, wind 10 mph out to left field

RF Lane Thomas
1B Joey Meneses
DH Keibert Ruiz
LF Stone Garrett
C Riley Adams
2B Michael Chavis
3B Ildemaro Vargas
CF Alex Call
SS Jeter Downs

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Ruiz saving biggest homers for biggest moments

Keibert Ruiz

CJ Abrams has been better lately. Lane Thomas has been better over the course of the entire season. Joey Meneses has been better with runners in scoring position. But there may be nobody the Nationals would rather see at the plate in a big spot late in a close game right now than Keibert Ruiz.

The proof is there for everyone to see, and it was again Wednesday night, when Ruiz launched a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to give the Nats the lead for good en route to a 6-2 win over the Red Sox.

This only four days after Ruiz hit the first walk-off homer of his career, beating the Athletics on Saturday night. Which only continued a longstanding trend for the young catcher of delivering big home runs in big spots.

Ruiz has now hit 15 homers for the season. Ten of those have come in the seventh inning or later. And four of those have either given the Nationals the lead or tied the game.

“I honestly think he’s more engaged, as far as getting the ball in the zone. And attacking the baseball,” manager Davey Martinez said of Ruiz’s approach in those late innings. “He’s been awesome. He’s knocked in some big runs for us.”

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Gore dominates, then Nats rally late to beat Red Sox (updated)

gore pitches blue

There have been some notable bumps along the way, some duds every once in a while when he takes the mound. But there have been more than a few really good nights for MacKenzie Gore in his first full season with the Nationals.

And none as good as the one the crowd at Nationals Park witnessed tonight. Even if it did end abruptly and earlier than anyone would’ve preferred. Though the final outcome more than pleased the home team and its fans.

With a devastating combination of precision, power and efficiency, Gore put together his best start as a big leaguer, overwhelming the Red Sox for 6 1/3 scoreless innings before departing with a blister on his left middle finger, an early departure that prefaced a wild finish that saw Boston rally to tie the game but the Nats respond with back-to-back homers by Keibert Ruiz and Stone Garrett for a 6-2 victory.

"That was frustrating," Gore said of the blister forcing him from the game. "But it's something I deal with. There's no panic button or anything. There was a lot of good tonight. We got ahead of guys. Keibert was awesome. We turned a lot of double plays. And we hit some big homers."

Jordan Weems, who replaced Gore on the mound, gave up a game-tying homer to Pablo Reyes in the eighth. No problem, because his teammates were ready to pick him up. Ruiz launched a three-run homer to right-center off reliever Garrett Whitlock, the young catcher’s latest clutch blast in a season full of them.

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Rainey, Thompson to begin rehab assignments Friday

rainey pitches white

Two more injured Nationals relievers are ready to begin pitching in competitive games.

Tanner Rainey and Mason Thompson will both begin minor league rehab assignments Friday, manager Davey Martinez announced prior to tonight’s game against the Red Sox. Rainey will pitch for Single-A Fredericksburg, with Thompson joining Double-A Harrisburg, which is playing at Richmond this week.

For Rainey, this marks the most significant step in his long recovery from Tommy John surgery. The 30-year-old right-hander is more than a year removed from his procedure to replace the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, and though he has faced live hitters in West Palm Beach, Fla., and here at Nationals Park in recent days, he’s now ready to compete in an actual game.

The club wants Rainey to take things slow, recognizing he’s allotted up to 30 days on his rehab assignment before he must be added to the active roster. If things go, he’ll likely join the Nationals in mid-September and make a handful of appearances before season’s end.

“Just continue to remember where he’s at,” Martinez said. “And we’re still building up.”

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