Nats play intrasquad game, set rotation after off-day (plus more notes)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Yesterday’s rainout against the Marlins made the Nationals get a little creative in order to get players the work they missed out on.

Hello, intrasquad game on the back fields, where the results are even more meaningless than your typical spring training game.

“A bunch of guys are just gonna go there and get at-bats mainly against our pitchers who have to throw,” manager Davey Martinez said before today’s game against the Cardinals.

Zach Davies (yesterday’s scheduled starter) and Jackson Rutledge were the starting pitchers with a group of minor leaguers playing the field behind them. At times, the outfield wasn't even occupied. Stepping into the box were a handful of regular major leaguers, including CJ Abrams, Stone Garrett, Riley Adams, Jake Alu, Carter Kieboom, Juan Yepez, Alex Call, Travis Blankenhorn, Trey Lipscomb, Israel Pineda and Brady Lindsly.

Pitchers behind Davies for the “home” team included Robert Garcia, Jordan Weems, Jose A. Ferrer and Amos Willingham. Behind Rutledge for the “away” team were Joan Adon and DJ Herz.

Davies and Rutledge each pitched three innings, with pitching coach Jim Hickey calling out Davies’ pitch count at 51 after the third out of the third frame.

This is the first time we’ve seen Garrett play in some sort of game action since he broke his left fibula and hurt his ankle in August at Yankee Stadium. The 28-year-old outfielder has, however, been taking at-bats in minor league games.

“He's actually been playing against the minor league teams, hitting-wise,” Martinez said. “We haven't put him in the field yet. But he's getting better. He's running the bases a lot better. His side-to-side has been better. So hopefully, like I said, we're gonna progress him. Hopefully, by the time we leave here he will be ready. But only time will tell.”

Garrett struck out in his first at-bat against Davies and grounded out in the second. He put the ball into center field against Rutledge and Garcia in his next two at-bats, allowing him to run down the first base line. Although able to run and make a slight turn at the bag, he still looked to be running a little gingerly.

* The Nationals set their rotation for the three days after Tuesday’s off-day.

Patrick Corbin will start Wednesday against the Marlins in Jupiter. Jake Irvin will start Thursday night against the Mets in Port St. Lucie while MacKenzie Gore pitches in a minor league game. And Josiah Gray will make his third start Friday night against the Cardinals in West Palm Beach.

Irvin, who has come out of the bullpen for both of his Grapefruit League appearances so far, will get the chance to make his first start.

“Irvin's been coming out of the bullpen. Just gotta get him revved up,” Martinez said. “I want him to start this time. They're both on the same day, so we'll have this day off and then we have another day off so it works out. Plus, I want to see Davies, (Trevor) Williams is back, so we gotta get them in there.”

The Nationals play a split doubleheader against the Astros and Marlins on Saturday at CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches, so the rotation will be reshuffled again after Friday.

Speaking of Williams, he is expected to go two innings this afternoon in his spring debut after joining camp late following the birth of his fifth child.

“I like to get him two ups,” the manager said. “I think we're gonna probably keep him around 35-40 pitches. If he does anything more than that, it'll be (impressive). He did everything we asked him to do when he was gone.”

* Martinez hopes to get Joey Gallo back in a game after tomorrow’s off-day. The veteran slugger has been dealing with tightness in his left quadriceps, but the skipper said there is no additional concern with him.

“He's been about 75 percent,” Martinez said. “So I told him, I said, 'Hey, look, there's no reason to push you right now.'”

After late arrival, Williams efficient in spring d...
Starting lineups: Nats vs. Cardinals in West Palm ...

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