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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Nats' inability to drive in runs getting exposed

Joey Gallo

It’s easy to look at the Nationals’ offensive woes right now and lament their lack of power. This is a team that has hit only 21 home runs in 24 games, the fifth-lowest total in the majors.

Davey Martinez would love more homers from this team, no doubt. But he also knows this lineup wasn’t built with home runs in mind. What the Nats manager really wants, more than anything else, are any hits that score runs, whether singles, doubles, triples or homers. Or even a non-hit that still scores a run.

“We had a chance today to score a run, just by moving a guy over (and) the next guy hit a fly ball,” Martinez said following Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the Dodgers. “Those are the little things that matter. If we do that, it’s a tie game right now. We have to get back to that.”

Indeed, the Nationals, for all their issues, have consistently given themselves a chance to win games this month by putting runners in scoring position. They just haven’t consistently shown an ability to get those runners home.

Consider Thursday’s loss, when they went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Or Tuesday’s loss, when they went 3-for-9 but drove in only one run in the process.

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Corbin roughed up as Nats fail to complete San Francisco sweep (updated)

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SAN FRANCISCO – A wild, eventful, successful opening series to this long West Coast trip gave way to an entirely undramatic loss in this afternoon’s finale.

A Nationals club that did so many things well – and overcame a sudden string of injuries – to take two straight from the Giants the previous two nights, did little well during a 7-1 loss at Oracle Park. And because of it, there was no first sweep of 2024, nor a return to .500 for now.

Patrick Corbin could not make enough pitches to prevent San Francisco from racking up seven runs and 11 hits off him, the left-hander’s worst of three starts to begin the year.

Corbin’s defense did him few favors, failing to make several plays that could have bailed him out and ended innings much sooner.

And the Nats lineup inflicted very little damage against Jordan Hicks, who was all over the place yet somehow allowed only one run on four hits and two walks in six innings.

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Depleted Nats lineup is quiet again in loss to Phillies (updated)

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An early home run by the opposition left the Nationals in yet another early hole. A big blast of their own a few minutes later brought some life back into the park and left ample opportunity for them to make up the rest of the deficit before day’s end.

Alas, it’s kind of tough to mount a comeback – even if one requires only two runs to complete – without recording a single hit. And for the Nats, just one hit was a major chore.

Held scoreless and hitless the rest of the way following Joey Gallo’s two-run homer in the bottom of the third, the Nationals never even gave themselves a chance to mount a comeback against the Phillies, who rode their early offense to a 5-2 victory in the second game of a weekend series.

Despite getting a string of zeros from starter Jake Irvin and relievers Derek Law and Robert Garcia from the fourth through eighth innings, the Nats lineup was again shut down by a Phillies pitching staff that allowed only two hits Friday night during a 4-0 win.

All of which leaves the Nationals at 2-6 overall and now needing a win Sunday to avoid a series sweep and a hugely disappointing season-opening homestand before embarking on a long West Coast trip.

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Williams, Gallo lead the way as Nats end Pirates' win streak (updated)

Joey Gallo home run trot

Trevor Williams won the Nationals fifth starter’s job to begin the season not on merit so much as on track record, contract status and the fact his spring training competition (Zach Davies) did nothing to earn the job himself.

The leash on Williams, who statistically ranked as one of the worst starters in baseball last year, is probably short. But Davey Martinez wanted to give the veteran a chance to open the season in the rotation and hope he would provide some sense of stability for his young and developing ballclub.

Who’d have guessed the best outing by any of the team’s five starters the first trip through the rotation would come from the last of them to take the mound?

With 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball, Williams became the first Nationals starter to earn a win in 2024. And thanks to enough offensive support – including Joey Gallo’s first homer of the year – the Nats emerged with a 5-3 victory over the Pirates on a cold, rainy April evening on South Capitol Street.

Williams was far from spectacular, or dominant. But aside from a rough top of the second, he was effective, holding down a Pittsburgh club that was looking to improve to 6-0 for the first time since 1962.

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Gallo to stay at first base as Rosario gets look in center field

Joey Gallo 2024 picture day

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The notion that the Nationals signed Joey Gallo to be their primary left fielder, taking advantage not only of his power potential but also his Gold Glove arm? That doesn’t appear to be part of the plan anymore.

The combination of Gallo’s sore quad this spring and the recent signings of Eddie Rosario and Jesse Winker have convinced manager Davey Martinez to use Gallo primarily at first base for now.

“I think right now the idea is to keep Gallo at first base, and DH him at times, too,” Martinez said. “Especially now that he had this little tweak of his quad. We’ll try to keep him out of the outfield for now. Who knows what’s going to happen in the future, but I want him to be healthy before we even put him in the outfield.”

Gallo played his eighth game of the spring Thursday night, his fifth at first base. He served as designated hitter the other three times. He opened camp splitting workout time between the outfielders and infielders, but in recent weeks has worked exclusively at first base, this after missing several days with the quad injury.

Signed in January for $5 million to bring some much-needed power to a Nationals lineup that ranked last in the National League in homers last season, Gallo also was touted for his defensive ability in the outfield. He won the Gold Glove Award in both 2020 and 2021 and has spoken many times about the pride he takes in being a good defensive player.

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Irvin strong in first start, Gallo struggles in return

Jake Irvin Whites

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – In order for Jake Irvin to bounce back from his rough first two spring training outings, the big right-hander thought he just needed to get back into his starting routine.

Irvin’s first two appearances this spring came out of the bullpen after MacKenzie Gore started each game. While he can do his best to try to mimic his process and timing as if he were the starter, it’s still not the same coming in after the game has already begun

The results supported that theory, as he was charged with seven hits and eight runs (seven earned) in just 3 ⅔ innings.

This time around, Irvin got the ball to start the Grapefruit League game while Gore started a minor league game this afternoon back in West Palm Beach.

These results are more like what Irvin is accustomed to: four scoreless innings of two-hit ball with five strikeouts albeit in a 3-1 loss to the Mets at Clover Park.

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Gallo returns to lineup, Rosario reports to camp

Joey Gallo spring training 2

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Joey Gallo returns to the Nationals lineup for the first time in over a week tonight against the Mets.

The veteran slugger will serve as the designated hitter and bat fourth behind Joey Meneses in his return to action.

Gallo last played on Feb. 28 against the Red Sox in West Palm Beach, but has since been sidelined with a tight left quadriceps muscle. He and the Nationals weren’t too concerned about the ailment when it happened – Gallo himself insisting if this was the regular season he would be playing – but there was no need to rush him back this early in spring training.

“He said he feels good,” manager Davey Martinez said before the team took the hour-long bus ride north to Clover Park. “Get him in there, get him a few at-bats today and see how he's doing. I haven't talked to him today, but I want to make sure I let him know, hey, just take it easy. Let's get your at-bats. Don't try to get doubles or whatever. Just take it slow, we'll build you up. But it's good to see that he's back in the lineup and he's gonna get some at-bats.”

Earlier today, there was initially a question of whether or not Gallo would play tonight that had nothing to do with his quad. The Mets, who were rained out yesterday in West Palm Beach against the Astros, pushed left-handed starter Jose Quintana to start tonight’s game instead of the scheduled right-hander.

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Starting lineups: Nats vs. Mets in Port St. Lucie

Jake Irvin spring training

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – The Nationals and Mets will face off for the second time this spring and the first time at Clover Park, about 45 minutes north of CACTI Park.

Jake Irvin will make his first Grapefruit League start tonight after his first two outings came out of the bullpen. The right-hander struggled in those two appearances, giving up seven hits and eight runs (seven earned) in just 3 ⅔ innings. He’s hoping that getting back into his starting routine and utilizing his new cutter against left-handed hitters will get him back on track.

Today is also MacKenzie Gore’s scheduled day in the rotation. But he started a minor league game back in West Palm to allow Irvin to start against the Mets. Gore faced many of the top minor leaguers, including Elijah Green and Yohandy Morales, and did not hold back. According to manager Davey Martinez, he was pumping 97-98 mph with his fastball.

Joey Gallo is back in the lineup after being sidelined for almost a week with a tight left quadriceps muscle. He will serve as the designated hitter for the time being while the Nationals remain cautious with the veteran before putting him back in the field.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS vs. NEW YORK METS
Where: Clover Park, Port St. Lucie
Gametime: 6:10 p.m. EST
TV: MLB.tv (Mets’ feed)
Radio: None
Weather: Partly cloudy, 74 degrees, wind 6 mph from right to left field

NATIONALS
RF Lane Thomas
CF James Wood
1B Joey Meneses
DH Joey Gallo
SS Ildemaro Vargas
3B Carter Kieboom
C Drew Millas
LF Jacob Young
2B Darren Baker

RHP Jake Irvin

METS
LF Brandon Nimmo
SS Francisco Lindor
RF Starling Marte
1B Pete Alonso
3B Brett Baty
C Francisco Alvarez
DH Mark Vientos
2B Joey Wendle
CF Harrison Bader

LHP Jose Quintana

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Nats add outfielder Rosario on minor league deal

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JUPITER, Fla. – The Nationals made a new addition to camp this morning by signing veteran outfielder Eddie Rosario to a minor league contract, a source familiar with the deal confirmed.

Rosario, who still needs to pass a physical before his signing is official, is guaranteed $2 million if he makes the major league club and could earn up to $4 million with incentives.

The 31-year-old has primarily played left field, but has experience in all three outfield spots over the course of his nine-year career. He owns a career slash line of .268/.305/.460 with a .766 OPS with the Twins, Cleveland and the Braves.

A fourth-round pick out of high school in Puerto Rico by the Twins in 2010, Rosario signed a one-year, $8 million contract with Cleveland in February 2021 and was traded almost six months later at the deadline to Atlanta for Pablo Sandoval. Three months later, he helped lead the Braves to their first World Series title since 1995.

Rosario was named the National League Championship Series MVP during that October run after going 14-for-25 (.560) with a double, triple, three home runs and nine RBIs, including a walk-off single in Game 2, two four-hit games and a three-run home run in Game 6 to clinch the NL pennant.

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Nats play intrasquad game, set rotation after off-day (plus more notes)

Zach Davies Dbacks red away

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Yesterday’s rainout against the Marlins made the Nationals get a little creative in order to get players the work they missed out on.

Hello, intrasquad game on the back fields, where the results are even more meaningless than your typical spring training game.

“A bunch of guys are just gonna go there and get at-bats mainly against our pitchers who have to throw,” manager Davey Martinez said before today’s game against the Cardinals.

Zach Davies (yesterday’s scheduled starter) and Jackson Rutledge were the starting pitchers with a group of minor leaguers playing the field behind them. At times, the outfield wasn't even occupied. Stepping into the box were a handful of regular major leaguers, including CJ Abrams, Stone Garrett, Riley Adams, Jake Alu, Carter Kieboom, Juan Yepez, Alex Call, Travis Blankenhorn, Trey Lipscomb, Israel Pineda and Brady Lindsly.

Pitchers behind Davies for the “home” team included Robert Garcia, Jordan Weems, Jose A. Ferrer and Amos Willingham. Behind Rutledge for the “away” team were Joan Adon and DJ Herz.

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Gallo "not worried at all" about tight quad muscle

Joey Gallo spring training 2

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Joey Gallo was adamant: The wrap around his left quadriceps is nothing to get worked up about.

“Just a little soreness, a little tightness,” the Nationals slugger said. “If it’s the season, we’re not even talking about it. But obviously in spring training, you’re always just cautionary. I’m not worried at all.”

Gallo hasn’t played either of the last two days because of the tight quad muscle. He didn’t participate in team defensive drills this morning, though he did take batting practice and showed no ill effects, launching balls into the stratosphere as usual.

The 30-year-old first baseman/outfielder said he didn’t get hurt on any one particular play. He just felt the tightness develop over several days and decided not to push it further.

“I’ve been playing with it fine,” he said. “It’s just more getting a couple days off it. It’s still so early in spring, you don’t want to do anything stupid. It’s very precautionary. Obviously, I’m out practicing, I’m doing everything. It’s about getting off it for a couple games and then getting back out there. It’s not a worry at all.”

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Starting lineups: Nats vs. Astros in West Palm Beach

Thomas Meneses Ruiz white

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Welcome to the 2024 Grapefruit League season, everyone! The Nationals open exhibition play tonight with a home game against their spring complex co-habitants, the Astros, at the newly renamed CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches. The facility, which first opened in 2017, is being rededicated tonight, with special guest Travis Scott (who founded CACTI hard seltzers, in addition to being a Grammy-winning rap artist) throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to Josiah Gray.

As for the game itself, the Nationals will be trotting out what could be their Opening Day lineup. The batting order could be switched around from this, but for now it’s a 3-4-5-6 of Joey Gallo, Joey Meneses, Jesse Winker and Keibert Ruiz. Interesting twist: Gallo is at first base, with Meneses serving as designated hitter after a winter spent talking about how he may be a more productive hitter when he’s also playing the field. Again, this is just one game, so don’t draw any conclusions until we have more lineups to consider.

All of those starters are scheduled to take one or two at-bats before departing. That means plenty of playing time for backups, and tonight that will include three top outfield prospects: Robert Hassell III in left field, Dylan Crews in center field, James Wood in right field. That will be fun to watch.

Patrick Corbin gets the start, scheduled for two innings and 35 pitches. And he’ll be followed by two more starters: Jackson Rutledge and Joan Adon, each also scheduled for two innings and 35 pitches. Eventually, we’ll see a few relievers.

If you’re interested in watching tonight’s game, you can pick up the Astros’ TV broadcast on MLB.tv and tape-delayed at 10 p.m. on MLB Network. You can also listen to Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler on nationals.com.

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For Gallo, a Web Gem is just as important as a home run

Joey Gallo Twins jersey

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Joey Gallo saved the scouting reports, the ones written about him when he was a 6-foot-5, 18-year-old third baseman coming out of high school in Las Vegas, the ones that insisted his only path to the major leagues some day would be through his prodigious bat.

“Everybody always told me my whole life: ‘You’re going to be a first baseman, a DH,’” he recalled. “‘You don’t hit the ball enough to play in the big leagues. You’re not athletic enough.’ All that stuff.”

So, when he won the first of his two Gold Glove Awards in 2020 as the Rangers’ right fielder, Gallo pulled those scouting reports out of the old file and relished in the moment.

“I was always told I couldn’t,” he said. “And that helps, because you want to prove people wrong. It gives you a little fire. I’ve always been pretty athletic for my size and had a good arm. I didn’t want that to go to waste. I wanted to put it to good use, so I could look back one day and say I did everything I could to be the best baseball player I could be.”

Make no mistake, the Nationals signed Gallo for $5 million this winter primarily because of his ability to hit the ball very far in the air, something they as a team didn’t do nearly enough last season. But they were equally impressed with the 30-year-old’s abilities in the field, from the arm that has thrown out 42 runners from the outfield to the glove that has scooped up dozens of errant throws at first base to prevent his teammates from being charged with an error.

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Updating the organization depth chart as spring training approaches

Mike Rizzo

We are now inside of two weeks until pitchers and catchers report, so the offseason is nearly finished.

And what an offseason it’s been for the Nationals, who have … acquired a total of four major league players, not even totaling $10 million spent on those players.

OK, so it’s been an awfully quiet winter on South Capitol Street. There’s still time for Mike Rizzo and Co. to make more moves, though. And given the swath of still-unsigned free agents out there, we may see teams continue to add significant players after spring training has already commenced.

But since we’re getting close to the finish line now, it’s probably a good time to take an updated look at the state of the Nationals’ organization depth chart. We did this way back on Nov. 8, at the outset of the offseason. How does it look today compared to then?

(Note: Players listed below are on the 40-man roster, except for those with an asterisk next to their names.)

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Gallo's goal: Raise batting average without sacrificing power

Joey Gallo Twins jersey

Ask Joey Gallo what stats matter most to him, and he’ll tell you he pays attention to on-base percentage, OPS and isolated power. He’ll also tell you what he doesn’t pay attention to.

“I don’t look at average,” he said. “Because I want to throw up if I do.”

Don’t worry about tiptoeing around the subject of batting average with Gallo. Whatever you think of the cringeworthy numbers he’s posted throughout his career, he thinks worse of them.

Gallo, who signed a $5 million deal with the Nationals last week and was formally introduced via a Zoom call with reporters Monday, has played parts of nine seasons in the major leagues. His career batting average is .197. Only once has he finished a season with an average better than .209.

He finds that just as unacceptable as you do. He also knows it’s not as easy to fix as you might think.

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On Gallo's signing, Pineda's DFA and the new jerseys

Joey Gallo

A smorgasbord of Nationals thoughts on this Monday morning as Detroit Lions fans around the world cope with coming oh-so-close to their first Super Bowl appearance and the rest of us cope with another Chiefs-49ers matchup …

* The Joey Gallo signing became official over the weekend after the 30-year-old slugger passed his physical. Gallo is now a member of the Nats, having agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal that also includes a mutual option for 2025.

Before anyone gets too worked up over that last nugget: Mutual options almost never get picked up. If the player has a good season, he’ll want to decline it and see if he can get a better deal as a free agent. If the player struggles, the team will decline it because it won’t want to overpay him for a second season.

So for all practical purposes, this is a one-year contract for Gallo, who will be motivated to put up big numbers and try to parlay that into a better deal next winter, whether from the Nationals or someone else.

The odds of Gallo fitting into the Nats’ 2025 plans probably aren’t great. If things go as they’re supposed to go, the outfield will be filled with James Wood and Dylan Crews joining Lane Thomas. (And even if some part of that preferred plan doesn’t come to fruition, there’s still Robert Hassell III, Daylen Lile, Jacob Young, Stone Garrett and others who could ascend to an available starting role.)

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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.

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