Nationals manager Davey Martinez had good news on the status of catcher Kurt Suzuki, who was hit twice on one pitch from Walker Buehler in the seventh inning of Wednesday night's Game 5 against the Dodgers in the National League Division Series.
"Suzuki had an X-Ray on his hand, and it came back negative," Martinez said via conference call prior to boarding a charter flight to St. Louis, where the Nats will face the Cardinals in the NL Championship Series beginning tomorrow night. "He says he feels good. I talked to him this morning. He feels good. We will get him some treatment today, and I think he should be ready to go tomorrow."
The pitch hit Suzuki's wrist and then ricocheted up to hit him on his face, and he went down for several seconds. He was able to walk off the field with some assistance and was replaced by Yan Gomes. Martinez confirmed that Suzuki will be monitored for concussion symptoms for the next few days.
"We are going to get him on the plane, and when we get to St. Louis we are going to go through the concussion protocol," the skipper said.
Center fielder Victor Robles has not played since Game 2 of the NLDS, when he tweaked his hamstring.
"We are going to run him again in the morning tomorrow, and then we will see what his status is for the game," Martinez said.
Martinez confirmed AnÃbal SÃ¡nchez will start Game 1 of the NLCS tomorrow night, but said he has not yet decided who will start Game 2 or the rest of the series.
"I got a four-plus-hour flight," Martinez said. "I'm going to sit down and do some work and see where we are at. As of right now, AnÃbal will start the first game. After that, we will have to announce it, probably tomorrow."
And speaking of the flight, throughout these playoffs, the Nationals have maintained the strategy of flying later in the day instead of taking redeyes, first on the trips to and from Los Angeles and now for the flight from L.A. to St. Louis. The skipper believes a good night's rest (or at least an attempt at such rest) benefits his players at their destination.
"It's all about letting them sleep in a bed," Martinez said. "Nobody really sleeps on the plane. They say you can, but really don't get a good sleep. I wanted them to get in a bed and sleep at least six or seven hours, which they did, so they are fresh and recovered."
One strategy that did work well for the most part in the NLDS was using starting pitchers in relief roles. Martinez would not reveal if the Nationals would continue to employ that strategy this weekend and beyond against the Cardinals.
"Today I'm going to talk to our analytical guys and then decide," Martinez said. "We got a seven-game series, as we all know. In these games you try to go 1-0, like we've done all year long, and try to win that first game. These guys understand what we're playing (for), but with that being said, you got to make sure that we have our starting pitchers ready to go each game."
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