Davies roughed up in last scheduled start of spring

Zach Davies Dbacks red away

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Zach Davies has been doing this long enough to have real perspective. The 31-year-old right-hander is one of the most introspective players in Nationals camp this spring, understanding that the big picture matters but so does his most recent performance.

And his most recent performance was hard to ignore. For all the wrong reasons.

In his last scheduled start of the spring, Davies was roughed up by the Cardinals during a 13-4 trouncing, unable to get himself out of a seven-run top of the fourth that required 40 pitches on his part.

If this happened any of the previous springs, when Davies was assured a spot in his team’s Opening Day rotation, it wouldn’t have carried much weight. But in this spring, with Davies attempting to make the club off a minor league contract, it stood out like a sore thumb.

“I was extremely pleased with everything, except for the last inning that I pitched,” he said. “It’s unfortunate being in this position. Your last start of spring you don’t really have any more chances to show them what you have. All I can do is be prepared for whatever’s next.”

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Nats taking final pitching decisions down to the wire

Matt Barnes Marlins black away

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The Nationals are down to their final 96 hours in Florida, which would typically be around the time club officials are paring down the roster and making their final choices for the Opening Day 26-man squad. As they prepare to take the field tonight against the Cardinals, though, they still officially have 45 players in big league camp (39 of them healthy).

And it doesn’t sound like the paring down is coming yet.

“We still haven’t made any final roster decisions, really at anything, except the obvious,” manager Davey Martinez said. “I can tell you CJ’s going to play shortstop.”

So there’s your breaking news for now: CJ Abrams will be the starting shortstop. Try not to express too much shock at that surprise revelation.

“The next few days, we’ve got a lot of decisions to make,” Martinez continued. “These guys have all done really well. They’re making things hard. For me, it’s a good problem to have until the day comes when it’s not so good.”

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After late arrival, Williams efficient in spring debut

Trevor Williams red

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Trevor Williams was 11 days late in reporting to Nationals spring training. But he had permission from the team with instructions on how to keep himself ready for when he did get to camp.

The 31-year-old right-hander didn't arrive in West Palm Beach until Feb. 25, instead staying home in San Diego to be with his family following the birth of his fifth child. Leading up to his departure from the West Coast, Williams was prepping for major league spring training by facing high school hitters.

After facing live big league hitters and throwing a bullpen session last week, Williams, seeking to maintain his spot in the Nationals rotation as the fourth or fifth starter, was finally ready to make his 2024 Grapefruit League debut this afternoon in what would be a 1-0 win against the Cardinals in a quick 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Aiming for 35-40 pitches in two innings, Williams impressed while making quick work of his two frames on an efficient 27 pitches, 20 thrown for strikes.

“The goal going into it was just to come out healthy,” Williams said at his locker after throwing 15 more pitches in the bullpen following his departure from the game. “At this point of spring training, we want to get as much volume as possible. So thankfully, we're able to get two full innings today. I was able to throw about 15 more in the bullpen to get that volume up. I think it was successful in that sense.”

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Reinstated from IL, Ward rediscovered confidence during rehab

Thaddeus Ward gray

PITTSBURGH – The Nationals made an early morning roster move before today’s finale against the Pirates: They returned from rehabilitation assignment and reinstated Thaddeus Ward from the 15-day injured list and optioned Joe La Sorsa to Triple-A Rochester.

Ward went on the IL on July 3 with right shoulder inflammation after appearing in 22 games out of the bullpen in his rookie season, posting a 7.12 ERA with 26 strikeouts. Over two months later, the 26-year-old Rule 5 draft pick was clearly happy to be back in a major league clubhouse.

“Oh yeah, I missed that,” Ward said while receiving a big hug from Ildemaro Vargas before speaking with the media. “It's good to be back. I'm happy I'm back healthy, stronger. I cleaned some things up and I’m excited about what's gonna happen here.”

Ward made six starts while on rehab assignment, posting a 3.52 ERA (nine runs in 23 innings) with 19 strikeouts and six walks between the Florida Complex League, High-A Wilmington and Double-A Harrisburg. He last pitched on Sept. 8 at Altoona (Pirates), tossing five innings with two earned runs, three strikeouts and one walk.

“One of the things I needed to work on in terms of mechanically was kind of shortening up my arm path a little bit,” he said. “I had a tendency to stab down, and that's just not very good. Nobody likes that. So working on cleaning that up, making sure I'm not stabbing and just kind of being smooth through the arm motion. So it's one of the things I cleaned up and I've thrown a lot more strikes, getting ahead more often, kind of figuring out, well not figuring out, but kind of rediscovering who I am as a pitcher.”

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Game 147 lineups: Nats at Pirates

josiah gray pitches white

PITTSBURGH – The Nationals have a chance to split this four-game series with the Pirates in this afternoon’s finale.

After Patrick Corbin pitched 6 ⅔ strong innings on Monday en route to victory, Joan Adon and Jackson Rutledge combined to pitch 7 ⅔ innings over the last two games, both losses.

So the Nats will turn to Josiah Gray to provide some length on the mound. The right-hander will make his first start in 11 days after the team gave him extra rest to reset after a tough stretch. In his last start on Sept. 3, Gray gave up three runs while throwing 86 pitches in just four innings against the Marlins. That was the latest in a stretch since the beginning of August in which he has pitched to an 8.49 ERA over his last six starts.

We’ll see how he does this afternoon against the Pirates, who he held to one run over six innings with six strikeouts back in April.

Mitch Keller is the first Pirates starter this week that we knew was scheduled to start beforehand, instead of finding out only a couple of hours before first pitch like the previous three games. The right-hander is 11-9 with a 4.23 ERA and 1.282 WHIP in 29 starts. He was one of two Pirates representatives in the All-Star Game, making this a pitching matchup of All-Stars.

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La Sorsa embracing nomadic life between MLB, Triple-A

Joe La Sorsa vs. LAD

Joe La Sorsa’s relief appearance Sunday wasn’t particularly memorable. It didn’t make a difference in the outcome of the game (a 7-3 loss by the Nationals against the Dodgers). It included no defining moment, no critical out recorded and no damaging hit surrendered.

But when it came time to dissect what happened on another long, rain-delayed day at the ballpark, Davey Martinez went out of his way to mention the rookie left-hander’s seemingly innocuous relief appearance.

“I give a lot of credit to Joe,” the Nationals manager said. “That was awesome. It saved our bullpen, big-time.”

Having used up pretty much every other reliever on his roster the previous two nights, Martinez’s options for Sunday’s game were thin. And when starter Trevor Williams lasted only 4 1/3 innings, the situation looked all the more dire.

Martinez went to Mason Thompson first, the right-hander facing two batters in the fifth before the game went into a 58-minute delay, then returning after that to finish the inning and return to face two batters to open the sixth. Next up was La Sorsa, who entered with a runner in scoring position but stranded him there with three quick outs.

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Gore's season likely over with 15-day IL stint for blister

MacKenzie Gore gray

MacKenzie Gore’s season has likely to come to an end three weeks early after the Nationals placed the left-hander on the 15-day injured list with a pair of blisters on his middle finger that has impacted at least two of his recent starts.

Gore was hampered by the ailment during Friday night’s 8-5 loss to the Dodgers, in which he gave up three homers and was pulled after 89 pitches in only four innings. It was the second time this summer he had a start cut short by a blister, and it’s something that has plagued him in the past as well.

“It’s kind of always been a thing,” he said after the game. “It’s no excuse, but it’s frustrating. It is a real thing.”

Though he wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility, manager Davey Martinez made it clear it’s highly unlikely Gore will return to pitch before season’s end. He won’t be eligible to come off the IL until Sept. 24, at which point there’s only one week of games left.

“We’ll keep an eye on him, but I’d hate to start him up again,” Martinez said. “We’re getting close to the innings. Honestly, we’re beyond the innings we thought we’d get (coming into the year). But right now, I’m not going to rule anything out. Give me a few days. I want to sit down and have a conversation with him. But I think he’ll be shut down.”

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Game 142 lineups: Nats vs. Dodgers

jake irvin home blue

After a long night that included a 3-hour, 8-minute game and a 1-hour, 34-minute rain delay, the Nationals and Dodgers are back at it this afternoon for the second game of their weekend series. The Nats have lost nine of their last 11 and sure could use a win.

They also sure could use a start longer than four, or ideally five, innings. They’ve put way too much strain on an already tired bullpen the last couple weeks, and Davey Martinez wound up using six relievers Friday night. So the pressure’s on Jake Irvin to do what he’s actually done with some regularity this season and provide length. Against a tough Dodgers lineup, that’s a stiff challenge.

Martinez does have another available reliever today in Joe La Sorsa, who was recalled from Triple-A Rochester when the Nationals placed MacKenzie Gore on the 15-day injured list with blisters on his finger. Stay tuned for more on that story.

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 4:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM, MLB.com
Weather: Chance of storms, 88 degrees, wind 7 mph out to left field

SS CJ Abrams
DH Lane Thomas
1B Dominic Smith
C Keibert Ruiz
RF Travis Blankenhorn
LF Jake Alu
3B Ildemaro Vargas
2B Luis García
CF Jacob Young

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Thomas scratched, Gray threw bullpen (plus other notes)

Lane Thomas white jersey

Finally back home, the Nationals are feeling the effects of their 10-game road trip that took them to four different cities in 11 days.

Lane Thomas was scratched from manager Davey Martinez’s original lineup for tonight’s homestand opener against the Marlins after he still felt stiffness in his back. The right fielder was replaced by Alex Call in the seventh inning of yesterday’s loss to the Blue Jays after telling his manager he felt his back tighten up on him during the game, which Martinez said three days playing on artificial turf can do.

“We just scratched him,” Martinez said during his pregame media session. “He's still a little bit tight, so I don't want to take a chance. He's gonna get worked on and hopefully, he's available to pinch-hit.”

Everyone else in the lineup moved up the order, putting Joey Meneses in Thomas’ usual No. 2 spot behind leadoff man CJ Abrams. Against Marlins lefty Braxton Garrett, the Nats have Jake Alu in left field, Jacob Young in center and Alex Call in right.

Martinez wasn’t prepared to definitely announce his lineup during his pregame press conference, but he was prepared to announce Josiah Gray will start Sunday’s finale after the right-hander threw his routine bullpen session today.

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Game 135 lineups: Nats vs. Marlins

Joan Adon

After a successful 5-4 road trip, the Nationals have returned home to begin a nine-game homestand, starting with four games this weekend against the Marlins.

A team they have struggled to beat since the start of last season, the Nationals finally won a series against the Fish, taking two of three against their division rivals in Miami last weekend. While the Nats have been winning over the last two months (29-19 in their last 47 games), the Marlins have been falling down the standings by dipping below .500 for the first time since May with a loss to the Rays last night.

Joan Adon will get his second start against the Marlins in less than a week. He impressed Friday by completing six shutout innings with no walks and three hits while earning just his third major league win. The young right-hander will try to reverse his fortunes at home tonight: He has a 10.29 ERA over two starts at Nationals Park compared to a 2.25 ERA in his two road starts.

Braxton Garrett will also get his second chance at the Nationals in less than a week, as he was Adon’s opposition last week in Miami. The left-hander turned in a quality start with three runs over six innings, but that was enough to charge him with the loss. He tossed six innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts here back in June.

There was a pregame roster move to report: The Nationals placed MacKenzie Gore on the bereavement list and recalled Joe La Sorsa to the active roster. Gore was possibly in line to start Sunday if the Nats decided to give Josiah Gray extra rest after his bullpen session tomorrow. If not Gore nor Gray for Sunday, they could use a bullpen game instead, especially with rosters expanding to 28 players tomorrow.

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Adon called up, La Sorsa optioned as Nats seek fresh arm

Adon throwing gray

A Nationals pitching staff that was overtaxed the last few days will have a fresh arm for the final series of the first half: Joan Adon.

Adon was recalled from Triple-A this afternoon, giving the Nats someone who could churn out a good number of innings if needed out of the bullpen against the Rangers. Left-hander Joe La Sorsa was optioned to Rochester to clear a roster spot.

The events of the last two days made some kind of move inevitable. La Sorsa threw 51 pitches in two innings of relief Wednesday night, making him unavailable to return until at least Saturday. Jordan Weems threw 27 pitches that night, then returned to throw 28 on Thursday, likely knocking him out a few days as well.

The 1-hour, 43-minute rain delay in the second inning Thursday really threw a wrench into plans, with starter MacKenzie Gore unable to continue after throwing only 17 pitches. Manager Davey Martinez wound up using six relievers to cover the remaining 8 2/3 innings necessary in a 10-inning loss to Cincinnati.

Hence the decision to promote Adon, who was scheduled to start for Rochester on Thursday night but was instead informed he was to report to D.C. The 24-year-old right-hander has made 15 starts at Triple-A this season, going 2-5 with a 4.81 ERA and 1.578 WHIP.

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Ward lands on IL, Nats keep two lefties in bullpen

ward pitching gray

After spending the majority of the season to date with zero left-handers in their bullpen, the Nationals are going to keep two for the time being after making another roster move today, but not the one that seemed the likeliest.

With Patrick Corbin returning from the bereavement list, the Nats placed Thaddeus Ward on the 15-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation, keeping both Jose A. Ferrer and Joe La Sorsa in a bullpen that suddenly includes two lefties.

Ferrer just made his major league debut Saturday after his promotion from Triple-A Rochester. The 23-year-old pitched a scoreless inning against the Phillies, then did it again during Sunday’s 5-4 victory. He’ll now get a chance to stay and prove he can enjoy continued success at this level.

“He’s throwing the ball well,” manager Davey Martinez said. “The biggest thing I like is he’s throwing strikes. It’s something I talked to him about when he got here: ‘It doesn’t matter how hard you throw, or what you throw. It’s about throwing strike one.’ And so far, he’s done that.”

La Sorsa, who made two appearances for the Rays earlier this season before the Nationals claimed him off waivers and called him up late last month, impressed in his first two outings but allowed four runs while facing only five batters during Saturday’s 19-4 loss in Philadelphia.

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Gore-Soto showdown highlights Nats' win in San Diego (updated)

MacKenzie Gore throw blue away

SAN DIEGO – As he stalked off the mound, MacKenzie Gore looked directly at Juan Soto, who was looking directly back at the Nationals left-hander. Words were spoken. Heads were nodded. Competitive juices flowed.

There was no disrespect from either party, just an acknowledgment that one had bested the other on this afternoon and that there surely will be future meetings between these two ballplayers forever connected via trade.

"I like him," Gore insisted. "He talks some junk, and he's competitive. I've never played against him much, but I like him."

If future encounters between the two produce the same results as today, the Nats will happily take it.

Gore’s high-energy strikeout of Soto – his third of the afternoon against the former D.C. star – may have come in the fifth inning of what wound up an 8-3 Nationals victory thanks to a parade of late-game hits by the visitors. But it was still the signature moment of a day that included a number of exciting moments but none as important in the long-term picture for this franchise.

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After winding path, La Sorsa hopes to stick in D.C.

lasorsa pitches italy

SAN DIEGO – The path that ultimately brought Joe La Sorsa to the visitors’ clubhouse at Petco Park this afternoon was as follows: Montgomery, Ala., to Durham, N.C., to St. Petersburg, Fla., to DFA Purgatory to Rochester, N.Y., to Washington, where the left-hander spent barely more than 24 hours learning his new surroundings before hopping aboard the Nationals’ charter flight for a nine-game road trip that will take the team from San Diego to Seattle to Philadelphia.

“I haven’t really had more than a month any place. That’s pretty much been it,” La Sorsa said with a hint of both exasperation and appreciation. “But I feel very comfortable here. How I’ve been treated here, and everything with the Nationals so far is leaving a very good first impression.”

Plucked off waivers after the Rays designated him for assignment earlier this month, only two games into his big league career, La Sorsa made four relief appearances at Triple-A Rochester before getting the call to come to D.C. and replace the injured Carl Edwards Jr. in the Nats bullpen.

He didn’t appear in either Wednesday or Thursday’s game, but chances are he’ll make his debut sometime this weekend at Petco Park, perhaps thrown into the fire to face Juan Soto in a big spot late in a game.

Davey Martinez has been wanting a left-handed reliever for nearly two months now since the Anthony Banda experiment was aborted. He’s got one now in La Sorsa, an unassuming, mustachioed, 25-year-old rookie from Westchester County, N.Y., and St. John’s University.

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

Victor Robles run white

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.

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Kieboom back on IL at Triple-A; lefties continue to struggle

Carter Kieboom blue throwing

Carter Kieboom’s path back to the major leagues has taken another step backward.

The oft-injured former first-round pick is back on the injured list at Triple-A Rochester, this time with a left oblique issue. He’s scheduled to undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the injury, Nationals manager Davey Martinez said.

This latest injury comes barely one month after Kieboom finally started playing every day at Rochester after a long recovery from Tommy John surgery. The 25-year-old third baseman missed all of the 2022 season, then remained at extended spring training throughout April while dealing with a shoulder problem.

After a four-game rehab stint at Double-A Harrisburg, Kieboom was activated off the IL and debuted for Rochester on May 9. In 26 games since, he hit .264 with six doubles, one triple, three homers, 18 RBIs, a .366 on-base percentage and .790 OPS.

“He’s worked really hard to get back to where he’s at,” Martinez said. “He’s had all these little nagging injuries. And then again, people don’t realize how tough it is to play every day (in) this game. It’s tough. When he’s not used to doing it for over a year and he’s playing every day, your body sometimes reacts to it. Hopefully this is just a minor setback and we can get him back on the field, because he’s been hitting the ball really well.”

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Martinez on Robles, Doolittle and La Sorsa

robles swings grey

ATLANTA – Before their finale against the Diamondbacks was postponed due to poor air quality yesterday, the Nationals announced they were sending Victor Robles to Triple-A Rochester on a rehab assignment.

Robles has been sidelined since he hurt his back by sliding into second base in Arizona on May 6. Up until recently, he had been very limited in what rehab work he could actually do. But has he started to improve, he was able to do more and more physical activity and is now ready to play in games.

“Victor will play tonight in Rochester and we'll see how he gets through it,” manager Davey Martinez said during his media session before tonight’s series opener against the Braves. “He'll probably get maybe four, maybe five innings. So we'll see how he gets through it.”

Robles is hitting third and playing center field for the Red Wings tonight in Worcester.

Needing a bounceback season, the 26-year-old was off to a solid start to the season before his injury. In 31 games, he was hitting .292 with a .388 on-base percentage and .748 OPS. He scored 13 runs, hit four doubles, one triple and eight RBIs and stole a team-high eight bases while walking at the highest rate of his career (9.4 percent).

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Nats send Robles to Triple-A for rehab, claim lefty off waivers


Victor Robles is ready to start playing in games again. Another week or so and he should be ready to play for the Nationals again.

Robles will join Triple-A Rochester on a rehab assignment Friday, the final step in the outfielder’s recovery from a back injury that has sidelined him more than a month.

“Hopefully everything goes well and we get him back here soon,” manager Davey Martinez said.

Robles departed Thursday and is expected to play four innings for Rochester, which is on the road at Worcester, on Friday. Given the amount of time he has missed, he will likely build up his workload over several days and could spend a full week on the rehab assignment before the Nats decide to activate him off the 10-day IL.

“He’s got to go out there and play, start getting some at-bats,” Martinez said. “I want to see him do everything that he normally does. If he gets an opportunity to steal some bases, take the extra bases, play good defense, all that stuff.”

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