Nats hope veteran Ramírez can provide right-handed punch

ramírez batting blue

Seeking another right-handed bat to a lineup that has lacked for consistent production, the Nationals signed Harold Ramírez to a minor league contract today, with the understanding the veteran outfielder/first baseman could be called up to the majors in short order.

Ramírez, 29, owns a career .287/.325/.408 slash line in parts of six seasons with the Marlins, Guardians and Rays and was a highly productive member of Tampa Bay’s lineup last year with a .313/.353/.460 slash line in 122 games. But after slumping this season to a .589 OPS, Ramírez was designated for assignment and then released Friday.

The Rays owe Ramírez the bulk of his $3.8 million salary, and the Nationals now only responsible for a prorated portion of the major league minimum ($740,000) if he reaches the big leagues with them. He’s due to report to Triple-A Rochester and play for the Red Wings tonight, and if things go well he could be promoted in a week or so.

“We signed him to help us here, not Triple-A,” manager Davey Martinez said. “We want him here. But we’ve got to get him going. He hasn’t played in about seven, eight, nine days. I want to give him some at-bats before he comes up.”

Ramírez has played the bulk of his career at the two corner outfield positions while also serving as a regular DH, but he does have 39 games of experience at first base. Martinez mentioned all of those positions in listing where Ramírez could help them, then specifically suggested he could be a right-handed option for them in left field, which has been manned by the left-handed Jesse Winker most of the season.

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Gore, Nats push through extracurriculars to rout Marlins (updated)

gore

Frustrations are bound to boil over during the long baseball season. Either with one’s self or with a teammate, it’s a part of the game for every team.

Despite a shortage of wins over the last couple of years, there haven’t been too many incidents with the Nationals. At least not in the public eye.

The Nats have had even fewer reasons for one this year, as they entered tonight’s opener with the Marlins only four games under .500 and winners of five of their last six games.

But that doesn’t mean players aren’t intense in the moment. Some guys get into certain mindsets when it comes to game time and are completely different people off the field.

MacKenzie Gore is one of those players. Much like former Nationals ace Max Scherzer, Gore is very friendly in the clubhouse on days he’s not pitching. On days he does take the bump, however, don’t get in his way.

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Gray's challenge while rehabbing with seven-pitch arsenal (plus other rehab updates)

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Josiah Gray is going to retake the mound for the second start of his rehab assignment tonight with Double-A Harrisburg. The Senators are home against the Bowie Baysox (Orioles) with the injured right-hander starting and scheduled to go about four innings and 60-65 pitches.

Gray landed on the 15-day injured list on April 9 (retroactive to April 6) and made his first rehab start on Sunday with Single-A Fredericksburg. He threw 43 pitches and allowed three runs on three extra-base hits, awarded one walk, hit a batter and struck out two. He told reporters this week in Detroit that he focused mostly on his fastball and cutter.

Tonight, he’ll look to incorporate more of his extensive arsenal.

“I want to see him today to really attack the strike zone,” manager Davey Martinez said before Friday’s opener against the Marlins at Nationals Park. “Get ahead, finish. We always talk about finishing hitters in three pitches or less. I want to see him do that. Plus too, we talked a little bit about how to utilize his breaking ball. I want to see him throw it early in counts for strikes and see if he can do that. But the biggest thing is his mechanics. We got to make sure he hones in on his mechanics. That he's not flying open. I want his misses to be around the plate. So hopefully, he gets there today.”

Gray throws a whopping seven pitches: four-seam fastball, cutter, slider, curveball, sweeper, changeup and sinker. While the Nats would like to see him focus on a couple of them, they’re fine with him trying out as many as he wants in his rehab starts. As long as he throws them for strikes.

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Lipscomb recalled with Gallo on IL, Corbin to start Thursday with Gore pushed back

Trey Lipscomb

DETROIT – Trey Lipscomb knows the deal at this point. This isn’t the first time the Nationals have called him up to replace an injured player. It’s not the second time they’ve called him up to replace an injured player.

When Nick Senzel fractured his finger on Opening Day, Lipscomb was brought up from Triple-A Rochester. When Lane Thomas sprained his knee in late April, Lipscomb was brought up. And now with Joey Gallo landing on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain, Lipscomb was recalled and is back in a Nationals uniform tonight.

The versatile rookie isn’t in tonight’s lineup, but he’s prepared to play at any of a number of positions if called upon.

“Wherever you’re in the lineup, just go out and play,” he said. “That’s kind of what I’ve been doing my whole career.”

For now, it appears Lipscomb will be used everywhere in the field. He can start games at third base, giving Senzel a chance to serve as the designated hitter. He can start games at second base when Luis García Jr. needs a day off. He can start games at first base along with Joey Meneses, who suddenly finds himself back in the field regularly with Gallo injured. He can even play left field if needed, something he did once during his most recent stint in Rochester.

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Game 67 lineups: Nats at Tigers

irvin @ MIA

DETROIT – The Nationals have a chance tonight to do something they haven’t done in three years, something they haven’t done at any point since embarking on their rebuild: Win five games in a row.

Not since June 2021 has this team enjoyed a five-game winning streak. That month, of course, marked the beginning of the end for the previous iteration of the franchise. A terrible July convinced the front office to tear down the roster and start over, and only now are they starting to see the hard work come to fruition on the field. A five-game winning streak would sure go a long way toward making it feel like they’re making real progress, even if the outcome of one game in June doesn’t really make that much difference.

It'll be Jake Irvin on the mound for the Nats, and he’s been on quite a roll. Over his last four starts, the right-hander sports a 1.48 ERA. 0.863 WHIP and 26 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings. He’s also completed at least six innings in each outing, which might come in handy tonight given how much was asked of the bullpen during Tuesday’s 10-inning win.

Right-hander Reese Olson starts for the Tigers. He’s been hit hard his last two outing, allowing 13 runs in 9 1/3 innings against the Red Sox and Brewers. He’ll be facing a Nationals lineup that is now without Joey Gallo, who was officially placed on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain. Infielder Trey Lipscomb was recalled from Triple-A Rochester to take Gallo’s spot, but he’ll be coming off the bench tonight.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at DETROIT TIGERS
Where:
Comerica Park
Gametime: 6:40 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 88.7 FM (Spanish), MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 84 degrees, wind 11 mph in from center field

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What are Nationals' options if Gallo goes on IL?

Joey Gallo

DETROIT – The Nationals won’t know for sure until later today when they get test results on Joey Gallo’s left hamstring, but the image from the top of the seventh Tuesday night kind of said it all.

Running down the line on a grounder to second, Gallo grabbed his upper left leg as he approached first base. He walked gingerly back to the dugout afterward. And he was subsequently replaced in the field by Joey Meneses for the bottom of the inning.

Barring an unexpected quick healing process, Gallo probably isn’t going to be able to play tonight. And unless they can be sure he’ll be ready to return within the next 24-48 hours, the Nats probably are going to have to place him on the 10-day injured list.

Which is why they were already contemplating late Tuesday night their options for calling a player up from Triple-A Rochester to take his spot on the roster.

“We’re probably going to get somebody on the move,” manager Davey Martinez said. “I don’t know yet. We’ll just see what happens. But we’ll definitely have someone on the move.”

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Corbin shelled as Nats are swept by Mets (updated)

Patrick Corbin

The Nationals came home Sunday evening rightfully feeling good about themselves after a winning road trip against a pair of contenders. Next up: a three-game series against a Mets team in disarray in advance of its weekend trip to London to face the Phillies.

What ensued: A three-game sweep at the hands of that supposedly unraveling Mets club that featured two ugly pitching performances, an injury to one of the team’s best starters to date and precious little production from a lineup that has been the roster’s weak link for two months now.

Consider today’s 9-1 shellacking before the fans who waited out a rain delay a new low point to the season. Patrick Corbin was rocked once again. The Nationals lineup looked helpless against Luis Severino. And by day’s end, it was Davey Martinez’s bunch that looked ready to leave town, not the guys heading to England.

"Rough series," Martinez said. "But we can't feel sorry for ourselves. We've got another tough team coming in (the Braves this weekend). We've got to be ready to play tomorrow."

Outscored 23-11 during the sweep, the Nats held a lead after only one of the 27 innings they played. They saw MacKenzie Gore get roughed up for six runs in 4 1/3 innings Monday. They made David Peterson throw only 81 pitches in 6 2/3 innings Tuesday. And today they suffered the worst of both worlds, with Corbin shelled for six runs in 5 1/3 innings while the lineup made Severino throw only 72 pitches through seven scoreless innings before finally plating a run in the eighth.

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More on Monday night's eventful loss

Joey Gallo

Monday night’s 8-7 loss to the Mets was one of the Nationals’ more eventful games of the season, featuring an odd combination of encouraging, discouraging and frustrating moments along the way.

Let’s look back at some of the developments worthy of a second look …

* Drew Millas’ rough night
Making his first start behind the plate since his promotion Sunday from Triple-A Rochester, the rookie catcher was front and center for much of the game. And he did not enjoy a particularly good game.

At the plate, Millas went 0-for-4 with a walk, but he wound up as the guy in the batter’s box with the game on the line in the bottom of the ninth, the bases loaded and his team trailing by one run. He proceeded to strike out on three pitches, including a 97-mph fastball down the pipe from left-hander Jake Diekman that he watched sail by for a killer strikeout.

“I think my swing got a little big,” the switch-hitter said of his approach to the first two pitches of the at-bat. “I haven’t batted righty in a while, but that’s no excuse. I feel very confident right-handed to get the job done in that scenario. There’s zero excuse there.”

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Nats can't overcome Gore's rare blowup start, lose to Mets (updated)

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Though he hasn’t been lights-out every time he has pitched this season, MacKenzie Gore had shown significant progress from last season in one key area: The ability to avoid letting a shaky start go completely awry.

That streak ended tonight with easily the left-hander’s worst outing of the year. Unable to consistently locate any of his pitches, the young Nationals starter couldn’t take advantage of some rare healthy run support from his teammates and ultimately was the pitcher of record in an 8-7 loss to the Mets that saw the home team come up just short with a last-ditch attempted rally in the ninth.

"A lot of fight with our team and in our clubhouse. We always feel like we're in it," said Jesse Winker, who had three hits and drove in three runs. "We almost got the job done."

This game didn’t resemble any of Gore’s previous 11 starts, nor did it resemble many of the Nats’ previous 58 games. They had been 19-7 this season when scoring at least four runs, 19-5 when scoring at least five runs.

That wasn’t enough offense tonight, not with Gore laboring throughout his outing.

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Martinez balancing lineup with righties, Wood lands on IL at Rochester

winker

ATLANTA – The Nationals offense has averaged a little more than five runs per game over their last eight outings, breaking out of a slump in which they scored two or fewer runs in seven of 11 games.

In order for the Nationals to keep that up tonight, they’ll have to produce against left-hander Max Fried, who is coming off a complete game against the Cubs in which he allowed two runs (one earned), three hits, no walks and nine strikeouts.

Over his last eight starts against the Nats, Fried is 5-1 with a 2.78 ERA.

So manager Davey Martinez is stacking his lineup with right-handers to face the veteran southpaw, leaving some of his left-handed bats on the bench to possibly use late in the game.

“Yeah, definitely,” Martinez said during his pregame media session. “We could do a line switch here. Do something else late in the game, but tried to get as many righties in against Fried as possible. He's been good. He's coming off of a complete game and pitching well. So I tried to get some righties in there today.”

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Nats outsmart, outhit Mariners late to win second straight (updated)

winker bunting gray

Too often this month the Nationals have put themselves in a position to score the late run they need to overcome an opponent, only to squander the prime opportunity with low-quality at-bats.

This time, they delivered when it mattered. And they did so in part by outsmarting the opposition.

During a critical sequence in the bottom of the seventh, Davey Martinez pressed all the right buttons that allowed the Nats to turn a tie game into a 3-1 victory over the Mariners, ensuring a series victory and a potential sweep Sunday afternoon.

"It kind of reminds me of the days we had the pitcher hitting," Martinez said. "A little National League game. It's fun when everyone's engaged and guys are playing well. Today, these guys were playing well."

Trevor Williams did his part to give his team a chance to win yet again with five strong innings of one-run ball. The bullpen did its part not to ruin Williams’ start. And the guys who stepped to the plate with the game on the line made sure none of it went to waste.

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Nats drop another low-scoring game and another series (updated)

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They waited around all afternoon in the summerlike heat and humidity, waiting for the home team to give itself a legitimate chance to score and get itself back into a very winnable game.

And when the situation finally presented itself in the bottom of the seventh, and then again in the bottom of the ninth, the crowd of 21,837 tried to muster up the energy to encourage the Nationals to come through at last in a big spot.

In each case, the air was sucked back out of the ballpark. And by day's end, the Nats had suffered another demoralizing loss, this one by the count of 3-2 in the rubber game of their series against the Twins.

Tuesday night’s 10-0 blowout was no fun at all. But this wasn’t any more enjoyable, not with the Nationals lineup yet again unable to mount any semblance of sustained offense. As has been the case too often the last two weeks, the opportunity to win a low-scoring game was right before their eyes, thanks to another effective pitching performance from Jake Irvin and the bullpen.

But as has too often been the case as well, the Nats simply couldn’t take advantage of it. They’ve now lost nine of their last 11, and in seven of those games they’ve scored two or fewer runs.

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Slumping Nats lineup can't break out in 4-2 loss to Phillies (updated)

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PHILADELPHIA – The Nationals, fresh off back-to-back shutout losses at the hands of the American League’s worst team, marched into Citizens Bank Park hoping they might somehow break out of their funk against the National League’s best team, which just so happened to be sending its ace to the mound.

That proved to be just as tough a task as it looked like on paper. Though they did manage to keep the Phillies lineup in relative check, especially after a ragged start to the night, their lineup was no match for Zack Wheeler, who cruised into the eighth inning with only minimal resistance.

The Nats’ 4-2 loss in the opener of a weekend series wasn’t all that different from other recent losses. They got decent pitching. They didn’t get enough hitting. Though they actually inflicted more damage on Wheeler than they did Erick Fedde or Garrett Crochet earlier this week in Chicago.

It still resulted in a third straight loss, and in those three losses the Nationals have scored a total of two runs on a total of 11 hits. Not exactly a formula for success.

"I know these guys are battling their butts off at the plate. That's just kind of the way the game plays sometimes," said Jake Irvin, who has been the victim of poor run support. "We just need to keep going out there, giving us a chance to win. And the offense, we have a lot of faith that those guys are going to come up and do big things every game. Even when we're not winning games that we're pitching well, we have faith that those guys are going to step it up. And they will."

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Gallo activated, Lipscomb optioned, García scratched

gallo on bases white

PHILADELPHIA – In his 91 plate appearances with the Nationals before landing on the injured, Joey Gallo hit three homers and had nearly three times as many strikeouts as walks. In his 44 plate appearances in the minor leagues, while rehabbing his shoulder injury, he hit four homers and had nearly a 1-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

So as he returns to the lineup tonight after three weeks on the IL, Gallo is understandably optimistic he can continue what he did in the minors at the major-league level.

“You hope so,” he said. “I felt pretty good down there. Just getting at-bats and seeing pitching, that’s what it’s about. Obviously it’s not the big leagues, but it’s as close as you can get to it. We’ll have to see. But I feel good. I feel like I’m ready to go. I’m excited to just be here with the team, back with the boys, and trying to win games.”

The Nationals activated Gallo off the 10-day IL this afternoon, optioning Trey Lipscomb to Triple-A Rochester to create a roster spot. And the big slugger is right back in the thick of things, batting cleanup and starting at first base in the series opener against the Phillies.

There’s no guarantee Gallo will continue to hit well, but a Nats club that has totaled only 35 homers in 42 games certainly would benefit from a power surge by the 30-year-old, who was signed for $5 million specifically for that purpose.

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Game 43 lineups: Nats at Phillies (updated)

irvin pitching gray

PHILADELPHIA – They lost two of three in Boston. Then they lost two of three in Chicago. How will the Nationals fare the next three days in Philadelphia, home of a team with a 30-14 record?

It’s going to be a challenge, especially for a Nats lineup that was shut out twice by the White Sox and is really struggling to score runs right now. That group does have one power hitter back for the first time in three weeks, though: Joey Gallo. Gallo has officially been activated off the 10-day injured list. The corresponding move: Trey Lipscomb was optioned to Triple-A Rochester. Gallo and Co. will hope to make some loud contact tonight against the always-tough Zack Wheeler.

Jake Irvin gets the ball for the Nationals, looking to hold a dangerous Phillies lineup in check. Trea Turner is currently on the IL, but the rest of their regulars are healthy and productive, including Bryce Harper. The Nats will need Irvin’s best tonight, given their own offensive woes.

Luis García Jr. was removed from tonight's lineup and is replaced by Ildemaro Vargas. He'll bat fifth behind Gallo, who was moved up to the clean-up spot. 

WASHINGTON NATIONALS at PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Where:
Citizens Bank Park
Gametime: 6:40 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 88.7 FM (Spanish), MLB.com
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 70 degrees, wind 6 mph out to left field

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How, and when, can Nats expect to add power to lineup?

Joey Gallo

Runs are a hard thing to come by for the Nationals at the moment. This team, you may recall, was just shut out by the White Sox in back-to-back games, not exactly a source of pride.

Why has it been so hard for the Nats to score runs? Because this is a lineup that typically needs to do three things right to get someone across the plate. First somebody has to get on base. Then that somebody has to advance into scoring position. And then somebody has to drive that teammate in.

This is how it works when the majority of your hits are singles and doubles. You have to draw walks. You have to steal bases. And even after all that, you still need someone to deliver in a clutch situation.

There is, of course, another way to score a run, and all it requires is one swing of the bat from one player. It’s called the home run, and you can be forgiven if you don’t exactly remember what one of those looks like, because they’ve been in short supply around here.

The Nationals have hit only 35 homers in 42 games this season. That’s tied for third-fewest in the majors, with only the White Sox and Cardinals (32 a piece) behind them.

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Opener in Chicago postponed, Rosario named NL Player of Week

rosario

CHICAGO – The Nationals’ series opener against the White Sox was postponed due to heavy rain that descended upon the area this afternoon and doesn’t promise to let up all night.

The two teams will play a traditional doubleheader Tuesday, with the first game starting at 4:40 p.m. Eastern and the nightcap to follow 30-to-45 minutes after conclusion of the opener.

Though it was warm and muggy earlier in the day, the skies began to darken by midafternoon. The grounds crew at Guaranteed Rate Field preemptively rolled out the tarp and covered up the infield before either team could take batting practice, and for good reason: It started raining hard only a few minutes later.

Rather than wait it out for hours and hope conditions improved enough to get the game in tonight, officials called it off slightly more than an hour before scheduled first pitch at 7:40 p.m. Eastern. Neither scheduled starting pitcher began to warm up.

Trevor Williams, tonight’s originally scheduled starter, will now pitch Game 1 on Tuesday, opposed by right-hander Chris Flexen. Mitchell Parker will start as scheduled Tuesday, taking the mound for the nightcap against former Nationals righty Erick Fedde.

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Injury updates on Gallo, Thomas, Gray and Cavalli

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BOSTON – As the Nationals got settled into the cramped visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park, Joey Gallo learned that his next rehab game with Triple-A Rochester was postponed due to inclement weather about four hours south in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Davey Martinez was hoping his first baseman/designated hitter, who has been on the injured list since April 26 with a left shoulder AC sprain, would carry over his strong night at the plate last night into tonight with the Red Wings.

“Joey Gallo is rehabbing in Rochester still,” Martinez said ahead of tonight’s opener against the Red Sox. “Today got rained out, so they got no game today.”

Gallo went 2-for-5 with a double and three-run home run in the Red Wings’ 14-12 loss to the RailRiders last night. It was his first multi-hit game and extra-base hits over his five rehab games, a good sign the 30-year-old is getting his timing back after hitting .122 with a .597 OPS and three home runs in his first 23 games with the Nats.

“He hit a home run and a double. He's starting to swing the bat a little bit better,” Martinez said. “They said he feels good. Just like everybody else, he's just trying to get his timing back. Hopefully, he continues to play. The rainouts are not good, but I want him to get as many at-bats as he possibly can before we bring him back up here. But we also want to make sure that this doesn't linger and that it goes away. But he said he feels good.”

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Gallo ready to begin rehab, Gray ready to begin throwing off mound

Josiah Gray

The Nationals’ run-starved lineup should get a couple of veterans back in the coming days.

First baseman Joey Gallo is scheduled to begin what should be a brief rehab assignment Saturday at Single-A Fredericksburg. Outfielder Victor Robles, meanwhile, continues on his rehab assignment at Triple-A Rochester and appears close to rejoining the big league club.

Gallo, out since April 27 with a sprained left shoulder, is ready to start playing in minor league games a week later. He has already taken swings in the cage and is now prepared to face live pitching in a game.

Gallo is eligible to come off the 10-day injured list on Tuesday, so if all goes well he should be activated in time for the Nationals’ series opener against the Orioles that night. The 30-year-old was off to a miserable start to his season, batting .122 with three homers, five RBIs and 43 strikeouts in 91 plate appearances, but his presence would still be a boost to a Nats lineup that has scored only two runs in its last three games.

Robles is set to play in his fourth rehab game tonight for Triple-A Rochester, batting leadoff and starting in center field. The 26-year-old suffered a hamstring strain April 3 and has been on the IL since. He’s 3-for-10 with a triple and two RBIs so far on rehab.

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

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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.

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