Robles and Edwards land on IL, Hill and La Sorsa join Nats

An odd Tuesday night has turned into a busy Wednesday afternoon here at Nationals Park.

After some misplays in the field, a confrontation with MacKenzie Gore in the dugout and questions about his health, Victor Robles was placed back on the 10-day injured list today with back spasms in the lumbar spine, with the Nationals selecting the contract of Derek Hill from Triple-A Rochester to take his spot on the active roster

It was a rough couple of days in the field since Robles was reinstated from the IL on Friday after he seemingly recovered the same back spasms that had him inactive since May 8. On Monday, he got a late break on a ball over his head that turned into an RBI triple after he crashed into the wall trying to get back to make the catch. Then last night, he let a ball land in front of him while slowly moving to his left, leading to the animated discussion with Gore. Later in the game, he only made it to first base on a line drive off the left field wall and then struggled to go first-to-third on CJ Abrams’ double to right-center.

Davey Martinez mentioned after the game that he was going to have a discussion with Robles to see how he felt.

“We made a move today. We put Victor on the IL,” Martinez said before this afternoon’s finale against the Cardinals. “As I said last night, I was gonna have a conversation with him. I talked to him last night. I had to really stress that he needed to be honest with me. And he said he was a bit sore and that it bothered him running. It doesn't bother him hitting, it bothers him running.

“So it's still the same. It's a back spasm of the lumbar spine. So we're going to put him on the IL and we're going to make sure that we get this right for him before he can come back. It stinks because he was actually playing well. He's hitting the ball, and he's been the ball all year, but I can't watch him do that and all of a sudden he runs into a wall again and something really, really happens to him. So we're gonna be smart about it. I know he's a bit frustrated about it, but we're gonna take care of him and make sure that he's completely healthy.”

When Robles first returned from the IL on Friday, he mentioned to the media that he only felt his back when he ran, not during his swing. That was evident as he collected a hit in each of the five games he’s played since, going 6-for-18 with a double and a walk.

The Nats decided to replace Robles with another hot bat from Rochester.

Hill, who was a non-roster invitee in spring training and suffered a hamstring strain during a Grapefruit League game against the Yankees on March 1, has been one of the hottest hitters in the Nats system, slowly forcing himself into the conversation at the big league level. He was hitting .320 with 11 doubles, two triples, eight home runs, 31 RBIs, 18 walks, 11 stolen bases and 40 runs scored in 52 games between High-A Wilmington (on a minor league rehab assignment) and Rochester. He appeared in 45 games in center field, four in left field and two in right field.

He leads Washington’s system in batting average (.320) and ranks second among Nats minor leaguers in slugging percentage (.521), OPS (.903) and runs scored (40); third in on-base percentage (.382); tied for fourth in home runs (eight); and tied for sixth in RBIs (31).

“He's been really tearing it up down there,” Martinez said. “So we're gonna give him an opportunity to come out here and play every day and see what he can do. But he's been hitting the ball well, he's been playing really good defense. So we'll get him some at-bats here and see how he does.”

Hill, 27, hit safely in 19 straight games from May 14 to June 7, going 31-for-78 (.397) with seven doubles, two triples, four homers, 18 RBIs, 11 walks and 20 runs scored during the longest active streak in Minor League Baseball at the time. And he capped it with four straight multi-hit efforts.

A 2014 first-round pick by the Tigers, Hill has appeared in 95 major league games across three seasons (2020-22) with Detroit. He hit .240 with five doubles, three triples, four home runs, 17 RBIs, 16 walks, nine stolen bases and 30 runs scored.

The Nationals could have brought back Alex Call, who was optioned down to Rochester when Robles returned on Friday, because he would have been replacing an injured player. The 28-year-old did hit a two-run homer with two walks in his first game with the Red Wings on Tuesday. But after he hit .209 in 64 games with the Nats, the club decided to give Hill another shot at the big leagues.

“I wanted Alex to go down there and really work on his swings,” Martinez said. “I know he hit a home run, which is great. But I want to give him some at-bats down there and really get going again before we make that decision. Like I said, Derek, to me, earned the right to come up here and play. He's done really well. I liked him when we were in spring training before he got hurt. Unfortunately, he got hurt, so we didn't see much of him. So now he's gonna get an opportunity to come up here and join us and see what he can do.”

About a half-hour after announcing the Robles-Hill news, the Nationals announced another roster move, this one affecting their bullpen.

Carl Edwards Jr. was placed on the 15-day injured list (retroactive to Jun 20) with right shoulder inflammation and left-hander Joe La Sorsa was recalled from Rochester.

The 31-year-old right-hander has thrown a lot over his last handful of outings. He threw 26 pitches while giving up one run in one inning on Friday and then threw 30 pitches while giving up two runs in one inning on Monday.

“He said a couple of days ago his shoulder was bothering him a little bit,” Martinez said before the move was made official. “So we wanted to test him to see where he's at and we'll determine today what we're gonna do with him. If he's hurting, then I don't want him pitching that way.”

Overall, Edwards is 1-3 with a 3.69 ERA, 1.516 WHIP and two saves in 31 ⅔ innings over 32 games.

La Sorsa was claimed off waivers from the Rays on June 8 and optioned to Rochester. The 25-year-old posted a 2.08 ERA with three strikeouts and three walks in two relief appearances with the Rays this season. He had his contract selected on May 28 and made his major league debut the next day against the Cubs, tossing two scoreless innings of relief.

La Sorsa went 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 11 games (three starts) between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham before reaching the majors. Opposing left-handed batters went 7-for-32 (.219) with one double, two walks and eight strikeouts against him prior to joining the Rays.

In four appearances with the Red Wings, he gave up three runs (two earned), one home run, one intentional walk and four strikeouts over 4 ⅓ innings. He’s the first left-hander in the Nats bullpen since Anthony Banda was designated for assignment on April 30.

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