Winker's knee passes test; Nats defense confronts speedy Carroll

On a night when hardly anyone in the Nationals lineup did anything of consequence, Jesse Winker did more than anyone else. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t able to play the team’s last game after hurting his knee.

Winker went 2-for-3 in the Nats’ 5-0 loss to the Diamondbacks, recording the team’s lone extra-base hit (a fourth-inning double) as well as a single in his final at-bat. The veteran left fielder did so with no apparent lingering issues in his right knee.

Winker hurt himself rounding second base and slamming on the brakes to dive back into the bag Saturday against the Marlins. He went to get an MRI that night, hoping it wasn’t anything serious but a bit worried it could have been something bad.

When the MRI came back clean, Winker and the Nationals were relieved. He sat out Sunday’s game, then enjoyed the team’s day off Monday before returning to work Tuesday, back in the lineup batting third and playing left field.

Winker ran the bases fine and had no problems in the field. Afterward, he was asked if he thinks he can jump right back into playing every day, or if he might need to manage his knee a little and take some days off.

“No, I feel good. I feel good for sure,” he stressed. “(Director of athletic training Paul Lessard and executive director of medical services Harvey Sharman) and everyone on our training staff, they’re great. They’re outstanding. I just listened to them, and they tell me what to do. But yeah, going forward, I’m good to go.”

* The Nationals knew entering this series the Diamondbacks run the bases as well as any team in the league. That’s not simply a matter of stealing bases, but of taking extra bases whenever a situation presents itself.

Sure enough, Arizona ran aggressively Tuesday night and was mostly rewarded for it.

Leading the charge was leadoff hitter Corbin Carroll, who despite needing an MRI on his left side Sunday was cleared to fly to Washington on Monday and looked like his usual self during the series opener. He led off the game with a walk, then stole second. He walked again to lead off the third and attempted to steal again, though this time Keibert Ruiz narrowly caught him with a perfect placed throw to CJ Abrams.

Carroll then tripled to left-center in the fifth, scoring on Ketel Marte’s sacrifice fly and finished his night with a hustle double to right-center in the ninth that seemed to catch Lane Thomas off-guard.

“They’ve got that leadoff hitter that’s pretty fast,” manager Davey Martinez said. “I don’t think very many people can handle him when he gets on base. He’s quick. In the outfield, we’ve got to get to the ball … and get it in as quick as possible. That’s all you can do. On the bases, he’s going to be aggressive. He’s going to steal his bases.

“The biggest thing we can do is don’t let him get on base.”

* The entire baseball world was mourning Willie Mays late Tuesday night after learning of the Hall of Famer’s death at 93. Martinez, in particular, had fond memories of Mays from his two years playing for the Giants in 1993-94.

“He was over in spring training with us, coaching, and just a really great man,” Martinez said. “What he meant to baseball was unbelievable. He taught me a lot about playing the outfield when I was there. My condolences go out to his family and all the baseball world. A Hall of Famer, and what he did for this game, and what he did for the fans of San Francisco, he meant a lot to the Bay Area. A tremendous person, he really was. A tremendous person.”

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