LOS ANGELES - Nationals players are wearing special commemorative caps, socks and using pink bats in the series finale today against the Dodgers on Mother’s Day.
“I’d like to wish all the mothers a happy and wonderful Mother’s Day,” Martinez said to open his pregame availability. “Everybody thinks my job is hard, but I can only imagine what moms go through every day and we thank you from the bottom of our heart.”
On the field, Martinez elected to give infielder Howie Kendrick the day off and not place him in the starting lineup because of a neck issue that recently cropped up. He said it is not a serious problem but more of a precautionary move late in their 10-game road trip.
“He had a stiff neck the last couple days,” Martinez said. “Then again, this is something I have said with him that we have to keep him healthy. We don’t want to lose him for a long period of time. This is just part of it.
“He can pinch-hit later but just to keep him off his feet and get his neck right. We just thought we’d give him another day today. We got a scheduled day off tomorrow, be ready Tuesday. He thought it might be a pillow issue (at team hotel).”
Outfielder Victor Robles was tagged out walking off of second base in the first inning last night. The play was big because if the Dodgers didn’t record that out the Nationals would have had the bases loaded and no outs in their quest to take a quick early lead. But Martinez said Robles is not in today’s series finale starting lineup was not a reflection of that baserunning mistake.
“Yeah, he’s been playing a lot so this gives him two days,” Martinez said. “He’s available to play. Just wanted to give him two days and come back Tuesday.
“No punishment whatsoever. Like I said, 21-year-old kid that plays really hard and I love the way he plays. I do.”
Shortstop Trea Turner continues to make positive steps forward in his rehab from a broken right index finger. Turner was long tossing on the field before today’s final game against the Dodgers. Even though the club is in L.A., Martinez said Turner will fly home with the team and not rehab with the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies up the road.
“I think he’s going to continue to stay with us and hit,” Martinez said. “I know yesterday he hit in the cage and turned the machine up for velo to get his timing right. So we will see where we are at after today.”
Martinez says swinging the bat is going well for Turner. But the key now is glove work, hand transfers and throwing the baseball with the right hand that are the most important parts of his rehab today.
“The throwing has been the issue,” Martinez said. “He has been throwing better. So we just got to get him out there throwing. Yesterday he went behind the bag, made some throws, running, took some backhands, did some throws running, looked really good. But he’s got to get comfortable.
“The biggest thing for me is game speed, reactions during the game when the ball comes at you what are you going to do and how are you going to move. The other thing is around the base like double plays, transfers to his hand. Once he feels comfortable doing that I think we are heading into the right direction.”
Reliever Trevor Rosenthal threw a scoreless inning, striking out one, walking none and allowing no hits for Double-A Harrisburg last night in Hartford. Martinez said the reports were very good for Rosenthal, who has struggled with his command to begin the season.
“He had a good outing. Threw 11 pitches, eight strikes, so it was kind of nice,” Martinez said. “He’s getting better, getting closer. I think he’s going to meet us tomorrow at home and he’s going to throw a bullpen and then we’ll see what happens after that.”
Martinez said he envisions Rosenthal to have at least a couple more innings of rehab work, but there is no rush to bring him back quickly.