Severino looks the part of sage veteran in return to Nats

ATLANTA - It was only his 36th game in the major leagues, but Nationals catcher Pedro Severino looked like the veteran catching Tanner Roark’s first start and win of 2018, and going 2-for-2 at the plate in an 8-1 dispatch of the Braves to open their series at SunTrust Park.

Roark spun seven masterful innings, keeping pace with the Nats’ amazing starting pitching to begin the season. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Roark have combined to pitch 25 1/3 innings and have allowed three earned runs. Opponents have not been able to take advantage of the opportunities they have had, hitting only .207 (6-for-29) with runners in scoring position.

Severino-Throws-White-Sidebar.jpgSeverino, 24, caught Roark last week in West Palm Beach for his 91-pitch sim game. Roark told Severino Monday night to just repeat that performance.

“He threw, like, six innings,” Severino said. “Before the game he said ‘Let’s do the same thing we did in West Palm.’ I said ‘Let’s do this.’”

Roark allowed only one run on four hits and, with Severino’s guidance, mixed his pitches well to confuse the Braves’ hitters. Roark noticed a maturation in Severino’s calling of the game.

“He’s willing to learn, and that’s what’s awesome about him,” Roark said of Severino. “He has a big notepad now and he’s keeping notes, and just little things like that is what helps you progress throughout the game, and he’s paying attention. He’s very vocal, which I love, and he always gives me sometimes a little fist bump like this is the one, you know, so it’s good.”

Adding to his worth, Severino led off the second inning with a single. The Nats scored three in the frame, courtesy of Bryce Harper’s center field blast, to go up 5-0. Severino finished with a pair of singles and walked twice.

“I’m just working on my offense,” Severino said. I know (Braves starter Sean Newcomb) got a good breaking ball. He like to throw it all night. I tried to hit the ball to right field. He got the ball deep to me and that’s what happened.”

Manager Davey Martinez was certainly thrilled to see Severino contribute with his bat, but knows his biggest value is catching the Nats pitching and playing solid defense.

“I thought he was really good,” Martinez said. “I’m proud of him. He did a great job. My concern with him is not really his hitting, it’s catching the way he did today. That was outstanding. If he can do that for us, that’s what we want him to do. We want him to call a good game and catch like he did today.”

Martinez said pregame that the plan is to alternate Severino and veteran Miguel Montero with Matt Wieters (mild oblique strain) on the disabled list.

“Well, Sevy’s here, so he’s going to get an opportunity to play (Monday),” Martinez said. “We’re just going to kind of mix and match. I like Miggy. I liked what he did (Sunday). I like how he handled Gio. He’s going to get an opportunity to play. So is Sevy.

“I won’t call it a straight platoon, but they’re both going to get a chance to play.”

The biggest takeaway from Monday is that Severino didn’t hang his head when he didn’t make the initial 25-man roster that broke camp last week. His value was on display Monday when, hours after his arrival in Atlanta, he was starting and contributing in all facets of a Nats win.

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