Robles returns to lineup after hamstring issue

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Victor Robles is back in the Nationals lineup for this afternoon’s game against the Twins at Hammond Stadium, three hours away from West Palm Beach.

The 26-year-old outfielder came out of the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader in the middle of the third inning after striking out against Astros starter José Urquidy in his second at-bat.

Manager Davey Martinez revealed after the game that Robles has been dealing with a knot in his hamstring since being hit by a pitch Wednesday against the Marlins in Jupiter.

“He's in there today,” Martinez said before the game against the Twins. “We'll see how he's doing today. He said he's feeling a lot better. He got some more treatment yesterday. He said (it feels) pretty good. Like I said, it's just that one area where you got hit. They worked on it yesterday. They broke up some scar tissue, so he said he feels a lot better today.”

Robles is leading off and playing center field against Twins starting right-hander Pablo López. It has been on-and-off raining in Fort Myers this morning, so we’ll see how far the Nats push him with a wet outfield.

While dealing with a back injury for most of the year, Robles was limited to only 36 games in 2023, which was an unfortunate development after he started the season strong.

“We're trying to get him his at-bats and trying to get him in there,” Martinez said. “But you gotta be careful because we know what he went through last year. But like I said, hopefully, this is nothing. This was kind of a contusion that was in a bad spot. So hopefully he's OK. They said the muscle is fine, it's strong. It's just a cramp. A little knot cramp. So hopefully, we get three more at-bats today and he goes out there and runs around a little bit. I think he's OK.”

The Nationals declined a $3.3 million club option on Robles after last season. But they quickly re-signed him for $2.65 million for what could be his last season in Washington. While he’s set to become a free agent at the end of the year, the Nationals have a loaded crop of outfield prospects knocking on the major league door. James Wood (batting fifth and playing right field today), Dylan Crews and Robert Hassell III have each had an extended stay in big league camp in anticipation of one - if not all of them - debuting sometime this summer.

Injuries are out of his control, but Robles needs to make the most of every rep he gets in camp to solidify his spot as the Nats’ starting center fielder. In order to do so, he needs to be on the field and avoid more injuries, which have plagued his career in the past.

* Martinez set his rotation for the next four days:

Monday at Cardinals – Patrick Corbin
Tuesday vs. Mets – MacKenzie Gore
Wednesday at Marlins – Jake Irvin
Thursday vs. Astros – Zach Davies

Josiah Gray will get his work in on the back fields at CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches one of those days. His last start was Friday against the Cardinals, so his next day to start would be Wednesday (which would also put him in line to start Opening Day in Cincinnati).

The Nats are deciding if Trevor Williams will do the same or follow another starter out of the bullpen one of those days.

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Starting lineups: Nats vs. Twins in Fort Myers

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