Corbin pitches well in simulated game; protocols annoy Thames

The Nationals extended Saturday’s sim game into the fifth inning, one inning more than they played on Friday. Left-hander Patrick Corbin was the featured starter, allowing one run over three innings. Innings were stopped when he reached 13-14 pitches.

“Pat threw the ball well. We wanted to keep him under 40 pitches, he threw 43, but he said he felt good,” said Nationals manager Davey Martinez during a Zoom video call. “So, we will go from there. The biggest thing was get them three ups today, and he did well.”

Daniel Hudson, Aaron Barrett, Kevin Quackenbush, Ryne Harper and Javy Guerra also pitched.

The highlights on offense were a two-run shot to left field for Carter Kieboom and a solo homer for Jake Noll. Noll finished with two hits and two RBIs. Yan Gomes also doubled and scored a run. Trea Turner doubled to lead off the game.

Corbin-Winds-Delivers-White-Sidebar.jpg“We got this mapped out for all our relievers and our starters,” Martinez said. “We want to get more guys out there today and get them on a schedule early, get to see them quite often.”

Tres Barrera made it all the way to third base on a ball hit on the ground toward third because the ball was thrown around the infield a couple of times. But the defense rebounded by recording a pair of double plays. Martinez said nothing replaces live baseball to help the defense get ready for real games.

“100 percent. Our big thing is pitching (and) defense,” Martinez said. “For me, there is three constants in this game in order to compete everyday: pitching, defense and baserunning. Hitting, as we all know, comes and goes. I know you got to score runs, but lot of times you are going to score a lot of runs, a lot of times you just need to score two or three runs.

“We need to do those three things consistently in order to win consistently, and we work on that a lot. We worked on it all morning this morning. Worked on a lot of PFP’s (pitchers’ fielding practice) with the pitchers this morning, turning double plays, bunt defense, we did all that stuff. It’s part of the game. They got to get it. I always talk about 27 quick outs. Let’s get 27 quick outs, and that’s part of it.”

Martinez has worked catcher Raudy Read at first base and moved others around on the infield so they can get some experience at different spots. The skipper says having guys who can play multiple spots will be valuable in this shortened season with an expanded bench.

“We are going to start the season off with 30 players,” Martinez said. “We want to put guys in different positions and see what they can do and what they can’t do. We will see moving forward. We got a lot of guys, good athletes, that can do multiple things, and that is kind of nice. That 30th man is going to be important early on, so we want to make sure we see these guys in different positions and see what they can do.”

As for players on the field, first baseman/designated hitter Eric Thames got two at-bats. He was walked in the first and got hit by a Barrett pitch in the fourth.

Afterwards, the former Brewers slugger said he is not thrilled with all the rules the players have to follow for safety on the field during games, but he understands why these protocols are in place.

“I think it’s terrible,” Thames said on a video call. “Not so much the practices, but just, like, the rules we have to follow. We can’t eat protein bars on the bench. We can’t celebrate with our teammates. Even on a ground ball, you usually throw the ball around the infield. You can’t have more than two guys touch a ball and they get rid of it and clean it off. Little rules like that are annoying, but you have to do it to keep everybody safe and to be able to play in a few weeks.”

But the veteran believes that if all these rules are followed, and everyone wears a mask, he’s confident they can play this season.

“It will definitely work,” Thames said. “It’s going to suck not having fans. The energy is not there. Even like having fun with your teammates, that pretty much makes baseball fun. The rules we have to follow, the social distancing, is definitely going to be tough. But it will work. People want baseball and players especially, we really want to play. Find ways to make it work.”

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