Martinez expects Escobar to return Friday, Sanchez to make next start

As the Nationals look to win their first home series of the 2022 season, they will once again be without shortstop Alcides Escobar, who will miss his third straight game.

Escobar was a late scratch from the starting lineup before Tuesday’s series opener against the Mets. After the game it was revealed he was dealing with an infection under the nail of his left index finger.

The timing of the infection was unfortunate for the veteran infielder. After a slow start to the season in which he was batting only .127 over his first 17 games, Escobar has slashed .440/.482/.560 with a 1.042 OPS over his last seven outings, going 11-for-25 with three runs scored, a double, a triple, a walk and a hit-by-pitch. However, his struggles in the field continued as he committed four errors over that seven-game span.

The 35-year-old tried to convince manager Davey Martinez he could swing the bat without using the affected finger (a la Trea Turner from a couple of years ago), but the skipper didn’t want to risk it.

Doctors removed fluid from the finger on Wednesday, but it remained sore, keeping Escobar out of the lineup for the Nats’ 8-3 win. He then woke up Thursday morning feeling a lot better, with Martinez expecting the shortstop to return for Friday’s series opener against the Astros after one more off-day.

“He's feeling better,” Martinez said during Thursday’s pregame media session. “They drained it again yesterday and he feels a lot better today. He's got a little bit more mobility, so we'll keep an eye on it. And hopefully with the day off (Thursday), he'll be back in there on Friday.”

Dee Strange-Gordon has been playing in Escobar’s place at shortstop, proving his worth as a super-utility man on Martinez’s bench. In three games at short, Strange-Gordon is 3-for-11 with an RBI while committing just one error in the field.

Elsewhere on the injury front, Aaron Sanchez is feeling fine after being forced from last night’s game when Pete Alonso’s sixth-inning comebacker struck him near his left wrist. Sanchez told reporters last night he will be good to go for his next turn in the rotation after being diagnosed with a slight bone bruise, with Martinez confirming the right-hander is just sore.

“He's good, he's good,” said Martinez. “Yeah, he's a little sore. But he's good.”

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