Gallo returns to lineup, Rosario reports to camp

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Joey Gallo returns to the Nationals lineup for the first time in over a week tonight against the Mets.

The veteran slugger will serve as the designated hitter and bat fourth behind Joey Meneses in his return to action.

Gallo last played on Feb. 28 against the Red Sox in West Palm Beach, but has since been sidelined with a tight left quadriceps muscle. He and the Nationals weren’t too concerned about the ailment when it happened – Gallo himself insisting if this was the regular season he would be playing – but there was no need to rush him back this early in spring training.

“He said he feels good,” manager Davey Martinez said before the team took the hour-long bus ride north to Clover Park. “Get him in there, get him a few at-bats today and see how he's doing. I haven't talked to him today, but I want to make sure I let him know, hey, just take it easy. Let's get your at-bats. Don't try to get doubles or whatever. Just take it slow, we'll build you up. But it's good to see that he's back in the lineup and he's gonna get some at-bats.”

Earlier today, there was initially a question of whether or not Gallo would play tonight that had nothing to do with his quad. The Mets, who were rained out yesterday in West Palm Beach against the Astros, pushed left-handed starter Jose Quintana to start tonight’s game instead of the scheduled right-hander.

But Gallo stayed on the lineup card. No need to play matchups this early in Grapefruit League play. The at-bats, regardless of the pitcher’s handedness, are more important.

The Nationals, however, will continue to be cautious in putting Gallo back in the field, where the two-time Gold Glove Award winner in right field has taken most of his reps at first base instead of the outfield so far in camp.

“Not yet,” Martinez said of a plan to put Gallo in the field. “We'll let him DH a few times before we do that.”

* Eddie Rosario reported to the Nationals’ complex in West Palm Beach today. Signed to a minor league deal yesterday, the 32-year-old outfielder had his medicals reviewed and took part in some team activities in the back fields at CACTI Park. The Nats are hoping to get him into Grapefruit League action soon.

“He had a physical this morning,” Martinez said. “He's doing his measurements and everything, but he's gonna come work out today. He said he hasn't really run the bases, he wants to do that. So we'll get him going for a few days and then we'll see where he's out. He'll take some batting practice and then try to get him in a game as soon as possible.”

Rosario will battle for a spot in the Nationals outfield, which is now surprisingly crowded. Mainly a left fielder throughout his nine-year career, the Nats also plan to give him some reps in center.
The aforementioned Gallo is working a lot at first base. Stone Garrett does not seem like he will be ready for Opening Day. Jesse Winker is also on a minor league deal. Alex Call is still working to be a proven major leaguer. And top prospects James Wood, Dylan Crews and Robert Hassell III may still need more seasoning in the minor leagues.

Victor Robles and Jacob Young are battling for the spot in center field.

“I've liked him for many, many years. He can hit,” Martinez said of Rosario. “He crushes right-handed pitching, which is awesome. So he gives us another threat in the lineup against righties. Right now, he'll probably play some left field. I might even throw him in the mix in center field. I know he's done it before. He's a very good outfielder, especially corner outfield. So like I said, he's just another nice bat that we got in our lineup.”

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Starting lineups: Nats vs. Mets in Port St. Lucie

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