Robles returns to active roster, but not lineup yet


Victor Robles is back on the Nationals roster, but not back in their lineup yet.

The Nats activated Robles off the 10-day injured list this afternoon, the outfielder having proven he has fully recovered from the left hamstring strain he suffered during the season’s first week. The club optioned Alex Call to Triple-A Rochester to clear a roster spot.

Robles played in only four games before suffering his injury running the bases. He was off to a solid start, reaching base in three of his five plate appearances and stealing two bases, on the heels of a strong spring in which he hit .368 with a .455 on-base percentage.

All that progress, though, was disrupted by his injury, which knocked him out a full month. He went on a rehab assignment in Rochester last week and over the course of six games went 7-for-20 with a double, a triple, three RBIs and three walks, convincing club officials and himself he was ready to return.

“I feel great,” he said, via interpreter Octavio Martinez. “My legs feel great. I have no discomfort when I’m running around.”

Continue reading

Nats hang on for dear life during 1-0 win over Rangers (updated)

Trevor Williams

ARLINGTON, Texas – One-run games aren’t for the faint of heart. And by one-run games, we’re not talking about games with a one-run margin of victory. We’re talking about 1-0 games, where every moment is magnified, every pitch is crucial and any one mistake can spell doom.

That the Nationals somehow found a way to pull off a 1-0 win tonight over the Rangers was nothing short of remarkable. It required another highly effective performance from Trevor Williams, who twice stranded the bases loaded. It required the scratching across of a single run by a lineup that has done next to nothing in two nights at Globe Life Park. And it required some electric work from a bullpen that knew it had zero margin for error.

But that all somehow came together beautifully over the course of 2 hours, 11 minutes this evening, leaving Davey Martinez’s heart pounding but happy at the end of a taut ballgame.

"You know what," Martinez said, "it gets interesting at the end there. ... As I often say, we try to get one more than the other guys. And today, it came true."

The Nats are a .500 club once again, opening the month of May with a win over the defending World Series champs and now giving themselves another opportunity to get over the elusive hump in Thursday’s series finale.

Continue reading

Game 30 lineups: Nats at Rangers

Trevor Williams

ARLINGTON, Texas – The opener of this interleague series was one to forget. The Nationals had only three baserunners (all via single, two of them never leaving the infield). MacKenzie Gore pitched well, but then the bullpen turned it into a rout by night’s end. A bad day all around.

The Nats will try to shrug that off and get back on track (and get back to .500) tonight, hoping for a lot more offense against left-hander Andrew Heaney than they got against right-hander Jon Gray. They’ve fared worse against lefties than righties this season, but they’ve actually won five of their last seven games against a southpaw starter, so perhaps they’re in line for another strong performance.

Speaking of strong performances, Trevor Williams has had a bunch of them to begin his season. The veteran has completed at least five innings in each of his five starts to date, and he’s never allowed more than three runs in any of them. (He’s only allowed one run in three of the starts.) We keep wondering if the magic dust is going to fade at some point, and perhaps it will. But if he can keep this up a bit longer, maybe you do have to start believing it’s legit.

Globe Life Park
Gametime: 8:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM, 88.7 FM (Spanish),
Weather: Indoors

SS CJ Abrams
DH Nick Senzel
LF Jesse Winker
1B Joey Meneses
2B Ildemaro Vargas
RF Alex Call
3B Trey Lipscomb
C Riley Adams
CF Jacob Young

Continue reading

Gallo lands on IL with shoulder sprain, Call recalled from Rochester

Gallo gray

MIAMI – The Nationals had another new face in their clubhouse at loanDepot park today as Alex Call joined the team from Triple-A Rochester to take the roster spot of the now-injured Joey Gallo.

Gallo landed on the 10-day injured list this afternoon with a left shoulder AC sprain and Call was recalled as another outfielder off the bench.

“Joey's been dealing with a left shoulder. He has an AC joint sprain,” manager Davey Martinez said during his pregame session with the media. “So we just want to get it to calm down a little bit and get him some strength back in there. Alex Call has been playing really well. I thought about just bringing another right-handed bat up, we're really left-handed heavy. So having him will help.”

Gallo, signed to a one-year, $5 million contract this offseason, was brought in to provide some power to a Nats lineup that was last in the National League in home runs last year. But the first baseman/designated hitter/outfielder has struggled to begin the year, slashing .122/.286/.311 with a .597 OPS, five doubles, three homers, five RBIs, 15 walks and a major league-leading 43 strikeouts.

The 30-year-old has struck out 22 times in his last 28 at-bats over his last 10 games.

Continue reading

As they await word on Thomas' MRI, Nats face decision on potential replacement

James Wood

The Nationals won’t know for sure the severity of Lane Thomas’ left knee injury until they get results of an MRI scheduled for this morning. But they were concerned enough Tuesday night to already be making contingency plans. And if there’s reason to believe Thomas is going to miss significant time, the temptation to summon one of the organization’s top prospects is going to be strong.

Thomas hurt himself on an awkward slide into second base in the bottom of the fifth. Though he was safe on the steal attempt – he’s now 11-for-12 on the season – his trailing leg caught twisted around as he popped up and left him writhing in pain.

After a consultation with manager Davey Martinez and director of athletic training Paul Lessard, Thomas tested his leg with some light jogging behind second base. He looked well enough to convince Lessard and Martinez he could stay in the game, but Martinez was worried all along it might not last.

“Once he got to the outfield (the following inning), I told Paul to keep an eye on him,” the manager said. “He might get stiff.”

Sure enough, by the time the top of the seventh arrived, Eddie Rosario took over in right field, with Thomas headed back to the clubhouse for treatment.

Continue reading

Late-night cuts leave Nats with only one more roster decision

Trey Lipscomb spring training

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The Nationals made four more cuts following tonight’s split-squad, day-night doubleheader, and in the process left themselves with only one more decision to make before their Opening Day roster is set.

The club optioned outfielders Alex Call and Jacob Young and catcher Drew Millas to Triple-A Rochester and reassigned reliever Jacob Barnes to minor league camp, leaving only 27 healthy players remaining heading into the final day of spring training.

The demotions of Call and Young leave the Nationals with four remaining outfielders, all of whom are expected to make the team: Lane Thomas, Victor Robles, Eddie Rosario and Jesse Winker. The latter two, who are on minor league contracts, will need to be added to the 40-man roster.

The demotion of Millas leaves the Nats’ catching tandem from the majority of the last two seasons (Keibert Ruiz and Riley Adams) intact.

The reassignment of Barnes, who pitched a scoreless inning tonight and finished the spring with an 0.87 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings, appears to solidify the Nationals’ Opening Day bullpen. Barring a late addition from outside the organization, the eight-man relief corps will include Kyle Finnegan, Hunter Harvey, Dylan Floro, Tanner Rainey, Jordan Weems, Derek Law, Matt Barnes and Robert Garcia (the lone left-hander in the group). Law and Barnes, who signed minor league deals after camp began, will also need to be added to the 40-man roster.

Continue reading

With Gallo signing, Nats lineup starting to take shape

Joey Gallo Twins white

It was a tricky task just days ago: For this week’s “The Hot Stove Show” on MASN All Access, I was struggling to put together a potential Opening Day starting defensive lineup graphic with the Nationals roster as it stood at the time.

Some positions were obvious: Keibert Ruiz was the starting catcher, CJ Abrams at shortstop and Lane Thomas in right field.

Some I could piece together: At the Winter Meetings, general manager Mike Rizzo and skipper Davey Martinez said Joey Meneses was going to play more first base. When Nick Senzel signed, he said he was being brought in to be the everyday third baseman. And until some prospects get more seasoning, no one is immediately pressing Luis García Jr. or Victor Robles for their jobs at second base and center field, respectively. (Yet.)

The starting pitcher came down to Josiah Gray and MacKenzie Gore. I went with Gray as he has tenure with the team and was the more consistent pitcher over the course of last season. It seemed the most logical choice, with the idea that short of an injury, Gore would have to very obviously outperform Gray in camp to get the Opening Day duties instead.

That left the designated hitter, left field and three bench spots open.

Continue reading

Are there still roles for Alu, Call, Kieboom, Vargas and Young?

Alex Call

Pick any lineup the Nationals fielded in September out of a hat, and you’re guaranteed to find the names of several players who have received scant attention around here all winter.

Jake Alu. Alex Call. Carter Kieboom. Ildemaro Vargas. Jacob Young.

Every single lineup card Davey Martinez filled out in September included at least two of those players. Many of them included three, or even four of them.

They received some of the most regular playing time on the roster late last season, and they’re all still part of the 40-man roster. But who – if anyone – is actually in the Nats’ 2024 plan?

If the rest of the winter plays out as expected, none should be in line to start Opening Day. And only a couple or three of them should even wind up on the Opening Day bench.

Continue reading

Nationals face several decisions on tender deadline day (updated)

Garcia and Call white jerseys

Baseball’s second significant roster deadline of the week comes this evening, when teams are required to tender contracts to all players on the 40-man roster who aren’t already signed for the upcoming season.

Tendering a contract doesn’t mean actually agreeing to a 2024 salary. That process can still take place over the next two months, with any cases that aren’t settled ultimately heading to arbitration. This first step merely involves a team indicating its intention to sign a player for another season.

And the vast majority of these cases are cut-and-dried. Almost everyone involved in this process will have his contract tendered by the end of the day. Anyone who doesn’t get tendered … well, that’s the real newsworthy event.

Dozens of players across the sport get “non-tendered” every year on this date. Most are arbitration-eligible and due to earn more money via standard raises than the club is willing to pay after disappointing performances, making them free agents who can then sign anywhere they like.

The Nationals used this to their advantage last winter. They not only non-tendered Luke Voit, Erick Fedde and Tommy Romero, they wound up signing two players who were non-tendered by other clubs: Jemier Candelario and Dominic Smith.

Continue reading

Roster moves coming on Rule 5 draft deadline day

Alex Call blue jersey

There are two significant roster-related deadline days across baseball this week. On Friday, all teams must tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players, with the possibility looming that some could be non-tendered. But before we get to that, today all teams must decide which of their prospects they want to add to their 40-man rosters in order to protect them from being lost in the Rule 5 draft.

This is a day that usually didn’t garner much attention from the Nationals’ perspective when they were consistent contenders and basically sat out the Rule 5 draft for a decade. But it became important again last year, both because they owned (and used) the No. 1 pick in the draft and because they had a high number of prospects they wanted to protect, forcing them to part ways with several big leaguers.

A refresher course, for those who don’t remember how this works: The Rule 5 draft gives teams the opportunity to select unprotected minor leaguers away from other clubs for $100,000, with one critical caveat: Any player selected must remain on the major league roster the entire season (90 days on the active roster) or else be offered back to the original club.

The Nats, who hadn’t selected a Rule 5 player since 2010, finally got back in the game last year by taking Thaddeus Ward with the first overall pick. The right-hander missed several months with a shoulder injury but met the required standard by staying on the active roster enough to remain with the organization, which can now option him to Triple-A if it wants.

The Nationals did not, however, have anyone selected away from them in last year’s Rule 5 draft, evidence perhaps of some smart decisions they made to protect certain players and perhaps of the lack of big-league-ready talent further down the organizational depth chart.

Continue reading

Does Call have future with Nats after disappointing year?

Alex Call running City Connect


Age on Opening Day 2024: 29

How acquired: Claimed off waivers from Guardians, August 2022

MLB service time: 1 year, 66 days

2023 salary: $721,800

Continue reading

Irvin's short start sets up blowout loss to Braves (updated)

irvin blue

Thursday night started with a lot of positive energy for the Nationals.

The team was still relishing Wednesday’s blowout win over the White Sox to clinch a series victory and put them two wins away from their first 70-win season since 2019.

It was Hispanic Heritage Night at the ballpark, so all of the Nats’ Hispanic players, coaches and staff members were recognized during a pregame ceremony.

And the Nats welcomed the Commanders for the first “Capital Crossover” night as the two organizations began to start a new relationship under the football team’s new owner, Josh Harris, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

But once the pregame pageantry was over, the daunting challenge of beating the Braves and their major league-best record became real. That task proved too difficult on this night for the Nationals as the positive vibes quickly evaporated in a 10-3 loss in front of an announced crowd of 28,100, many of whom were wearing football gear.

Continue reading

Nats finding ways to score runs despite ever-changing lineup

Alex Call HR vs. NYY

NEW YORK – That the Nationals keep winning is remarkable enough. That they keep doing it despite fielding some patchwork lineups in recent days is all the more stunning.

Consider the group Davey Martinez put out there Thursday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. With Stone Garrett on his way back to Washington with a fractured left fibula, and with Keibert Ruiz scratched because he felt lightheaded after taking a foul tip off his catcher’s mask the previous night, the Nats lineup didn’t exactly stand out on paper.

After the typical 1-2-3 trio of CJ Abrams, Lane Thomas and Joey Meneses, they had a 4-5-6 of Dominic Smith, Carter Kieboom and Ildemaro Vargas. Then a 7-8-9 of Riley Adams, Jake Alu and Alex Call. Not exactly the Bronx Bombers there.

Yet look at the end result and try to find fault with it. The Nationals scored six runs on nine hits, getting back-to-back homers from Call and Abrams in the top of the seventh and clutch hits from Kieboom and Alu.

This is how things have been going for a while now, though. Even when they lose productive hitters, the Nats keep finding ways to produce at the plate.

Continue reading

On emotional day, Nats storm back to beat Yankees (updated)

Alex Call blue

NEW YORK – As he watched one of his team’s most popular current players fracture his leg Wednesday night and then learned one of the icons of the franchise’s previous generation had finalized plans today to announce his retirement, Davey Martinez tried to stick with the mantra that has defined his six-year tenure as Nationals manager: "Just go 1-0 today."

It’s easy to preach, but much harder to actually do in reality. But on this day, Martinez’s young and growing team found a way to live up to his mantra. With a furious seventh-inning rally that featured several clutch hits from potential future core players, the Nats came back to beat the Yankees, 6-5, and win yet another series.

"I can tell you this team has become one unit," Martinez said before the game. "They play with a lot of heart, with a lot of passion. They're starting to understand how to play for one another, which is great."

Never was that more evident on this getaway afternoon. During Wednesday night’s blowout loss, the Nationals saw outfielder Stone Garrett fracture his left fibula, carted off the field in tears. Then as today’s game was playing out, word came down Stephen Strasburg had made the decision to announce his retirement during the team’s next homestand.

If ever a group had reason for a letdown performance, this was it. But after digging themselves into an early 3-1 hole via Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres homers off Patrick Corbin, the Nats fought back late to re-take the lead.

Continue reading

Nats storm back to win, then release Dickerson and option García

nats win

As he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, the bases loaded with teammates, the tying run on third, the winning run on second, Alex Call visualized what he hoped would happen next.

"Line drive to right-center," the Nationals center fielder said with a laugh. "But we won, so that's all that matters."

Yes, they did. By a 3-2 margin over the Brewers thanks to a furious rally in the bottom of the ninth against All-Star closer Devin Williams. The details of how they pulled that off are inconsequential, right?

"You know what exit velo is to me?" manager Davey Martinez asked as he walked into the press conference room at Nationals Park. "A hit. A hit is a hit."

Fair enough. Though for the record, the Nationals recorded only one actual hit during their game-winning rally. That was Dominic Smith's jam-shot, opposite-field single, which departed his bat with a velocity of a whopping 69.9 mph.

Continue reading

After weekend sweep, Nats fall flat vs. Rockies (updated)

corbin pitching white

Remember how everything went so well for the Nationals over the weekend? How they played crisp, clean, aggressive, winning baseball against the contending Giants and emerged with their first three-game sweep in more than two years?

Well, the Nats took the field tonight looking to keep those positive vibes going against the National League’s worst team and proceeded not to do anything they did well the previous three days.

During the course of a 10-6 loss to the Rockies, the Nationals looked nothing like the best version of themselves that had just been on display. They got a poor start out of Patrick Corbin. They did next-to-nothing at the plate against a couple of unheralded Colorado pitchers. They were charged with two errors in the field. They ran into one of the most egregious outs on the bases you’ll see all year. They were called for a balk when the pitcher turned to make a pickoff attempt at first base only to realize the runner wasn’t being held on.

"We made some mistakes," manager Davey Martinez said. "A couple of mistakes uncharacteristic to ourselves."

So it was the Nats failed to pull off their first four-game winning streak since June 27-30, 2021, back when Kyle Schwarber was launching home runs and Trea Turner was hitting for the cycle for a ballclub that believed it could compete for another World Series title.

Continue reading

Nats pitching staff falters in nightcap loss (updated)

Jake Irvin throw gray

ST. LOUIS – Under the circumstances, Davey Martinez had to do what he had to do earlier in the day. His Nationals had a chance to win the completion of Friday night’s suspended game, so he used all of his top relievers to make sure his team did ultimately prevail in extra innings over the Cardinals.

The danger in going for it this afternoon, of course, was leaving the bullpen without those top arms tonight. And the Nats paid the price for it.

A trio of secondary relievers gave up four runs in the span of two innings, turning a tie game into a 9-6 loss to cap a long day of baseball in downtown St. Louis that featured yet another rain delay.

After Jake Irvin lasted only three innings in a laborious start, Martinez turned to rookies Amos Willingham and Jose A. Ferrer, then veteran Paolo Espino to keep the game within reach. They couldn’t do it, with Willingham and Ferrer combining to allow three runs in the fifth and then Espino allowing one in the sixth and then another tack-on run in the eighth.

The Nationals wound up splitting the doubleheader and will need to win Sunday’s finale to emerge with their fifth series win in their last six tries. Tonight’s loss prevented them from pulling off their first four-game winning streak since June 27-30, 2021.

Continue reading

Nats enter All-Star break with series win over Rangers (updated)

josiah gray pitches grey

As the baseball world turns to tonight’s Major League Baseball Draft and the upcoming All-Star Game festivities, there were still games to be played today before the close of the season’s unofficial first half.

For the Nationals, that meant going for a series win against the first-place Rangers before they make the second overall pick later tonight.

It’s been a tough week – and to a greater extent month – for the Nats on South Capitol Street. Entering today’s finale, they had lost 15 of their last 17 home games, last night’s 8-4 win being one of the two exceptions.

But after losing six straight at home after Friday, the Nationals now enter the All-Star break as the winners of two straight with this afternoon’s 7-2 victory over the Rangers in front of 17,547 fans in attendance.

“Well, it's a good way to finish off. Boys played well," manager Davey Martinez said after the game. "It was good. You're playing a team that's got some horses over there. To come out the way we did the last two games was awesome. These guys, I'm proud of the way they're playing and the way they played."

Continue reading

Nats storm out to big lead, weather storm before winning (updated)

Joey Meneses Cherry blossom

Forgive anyone who sat through today’s proceedings at Nationals Park and worried things were going to end up just like they did the previous five days here. It was hot again. It was humid again. It rained again. A first-place team was in the visitors’ dugout again. Surely, another loss by the home team was forthcoming again, right?

Not so fast. The conditions may have felt familiar, but the end result was most unfamiliar. The Nationals actually won.

Yes, for only the second time in their last 17 home games, the Nats emerged victorious, storming out to an early lead against the Rangers, then weathering another rain delay before cruising to an 8-3 win before a crowd of 29,042 that barely remembered how to celebrate such an occasion.

That crowd was treated to a 4-0 lead by the Nationals before they even made an out in the first, an 8-0 lead by the time the third inning came to a close.

"I talk about it all the time: It's a lot different ballgame if you go out there and score first," manager Davey Martinez said. "I hope these guys learned today by going out there and putting some runs up on the board early, our pitcher gets to relax a little bit, and they get to relax a little bit and have some fun. Hopefully, we come out tomorrow and do the same thing." 

Continue reading

Long day ends in another home loss for Nats (updated)


As soon as the skies opened in the top of the second at Nationals Park, this was guaranteed to be an unconventional day at the yard.

The grounds crew would need to put in extra work to get the field playable once the storm passed. Bullpens would need to be asked to work overtime, with starters burned up. Benches would be emptied, players would switch positions, designated hitters would be forfeited.

In the end, the path may have been different, but the result was not. The Nationals lost yet another home game, this time by a count of 5-4 in 10 innings to a Reds team that just completed a four-game sweep in impressive fashion.

Nick Senzel’s two-run homer off Hunter Harvey on the first pitch of the 10th was the deciding blow, though it was Senzel’s defensive efforts in the bottom of the ninth that made it possible in the first place.

With a chance to win it in regulation, the Nats got a one-out double from Riley Adams and then thought for a moment they got at least a walk-off double (if not a homer) from CJ Abrams. But Senzel’s leaping catch at the wall in right denied the home team a chance for a rare celebration, and ultimately sent the game into extras.

Continue reading