MIAMI - Third baseman Anthony Rendon has the day off with a sore left elbow after getting hit by a pitch and leaving the game Saturday against the Marlins. The elbow was still in a small wrap as he got off the team bus for Sunday’s series finale at Marlins Park.
“He’s pretty stiff today,” said Nationals manager Davey Martinez. “He’s got a little swelling still in the elbow, so we don’t want to push it. We just want him to get right.
“I figured he was going to be stiff today. I even told him last night he wasn’t going to play. We’ll see how he feels throughout the day today and then we will go from there.”
Without Rendon, the Nationals are down to a three-man bench for today’s matchup: Yan Gomes, Michael A. Taylor and Matt Adams. Martinez emphasized that, for right now, an injured-list call for Rendon is not happening. But that could change when the Nats reevaluate him after the game.
Max Scherzer and other pitchers could pinch-run, but it still begs the question to Martinez: What do you do if Rendon is out for a couple of days? Would the Nationals call up infielder Adrián Sanchez and have him join the club in Denver?
“We will see”, Martinez said. “(Rendon) says he feels better than he did after last night, but we knew he’d be stiff, so we’ll see. He’s going to get treatment all day today. We’ll see where he’s at after (the game).”
Taylor could be one option in the infield, even though he has played almost exclusively in the outfield.
“Oh yeah. He always takes ground balls,” Martinez said. “He likes it so, yeah, we might have to use him in case of an emergency.”
* Center fielder Victor Robles survived a collision with the outfield wall in last night’s 9-3 loss to the Marlins. Martinez said his young outfielder is good to go today.
“He’s good, real good, yeah,” Martinez said. “(I) spoke with him on the elevator today coming over and he said he felt great.”
* The bullpen struggled Saturday night in the final two innings of work after Scherzer exited. Tony Sipp was able to record two outs on six pitches. But Austin Adams and Matt Grace combined for four walks and three wild pitches as the Marlins tacked on two runs to fortify the lead to 9-3.
Martinez was upset after the game, wanting to see his relievers throw strikes. He gave more detail this morning about what he needs from the ‘pen.
“For me, it’s strike one. If you’re a hitter and you’re up there and you’re a guy that throws 92, 93 mph and you go 0-1, all of a sudden that becomes 93, 94 mph,” Martinez said. “You go 0-2, that becomes 94, 95 mph because as a hitter you got to think, ‘Man, what’s he going to throw me? I have to lay off the high fastball, I have to layoff the low changeup.’
“Working ahead in counts is important, especially for our guys. We got to get ahead. I’m not asking guys to strike guys out. I told them that. We don’t have to strike guys out. You guys just pound the zone. We got unbelievable defense. Let them hit the ball. We will play defense, but when you fall behind and now all of sudden you have to throw strikes? Hitters tend to be that much more aggressive.”
Bottom line is the problems with the bullpen are affecting the 25-man roster. That issue turns into a glaring need when your starting third baseman is out of the lineup and not available. Should the Nats have considered getting Adrián Sanchez here for the game today?
Having eight pitchers in the bullpen may have to be reconsidered if Rendon is out for 10 days on the injured list. Because the bullpen has struggled to begin the season, Martinez and general manager Mike Rizzo have been left to search for a solution with eight relievers. They may have to change that thinking if Rendon misses more than one game.
* The Nationals will send Jeremy Hellickson, Patrick Corbin and Aníbal Sánchez, in that order, as the probable starting pitchers for the three-game set against the Rockies starting Monday in Denver. The Rockies have yet to announce their Monday starter, but it will be left-hander Kyle Freeland and right-hander German Márquez for them on Tuesday and Wednesday.