Castro finds learning about new teammates tough during COVID-19

Nationals second baseman Starlin Castro is getting acclimated to his new teammates, even if that is made more difficult because of social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s kind of weird,” Castro said during a Zoom call late last week. “It’s kind of really weird. But the good thing is, we’ve got like what, two weeks, three weeks in spring training to meet each other, to meet all the guys before all these things get crazy. We keep talking. I try to keeping knowing all the guys, what they like, how they do, how they prepare. They had a really good season last year. So, I just continue learning from them and try to learn the most that I can.”

Castro-Swings-White-Bubble-Sidebar.jpgThe Nats already had their three-game set in Miami postponed due to the Marlins’ COVID-19 outbreak last week in Philadelphia. Castro was not thrilled to have to take four days off between games this weekend, especially since he has had at least one base hit in five of the first seven games of the season. But he also understands that these recent alterations to the schedule likely won’t be the last, and that everyone must learn to adjust on the fly.

“The schedule’s going to change,” Castro said. “We don’t know if we’re going to be straight. If we’re going to get 15 days playing every day, we don’t know that. It’s kind of like mentally prepared (so) those moments don’t get you. Just be ready, no matter what will happen we’re prepared to play and we’re ready.”

* The Nationals announced that Patrick Corbin will start Tuesday’s game series opener against the Mets and Max Scherzer will get the call for Wednesday’s finale. The Nats have Thursday off before facing the Orioles at home next weekend. Interestingly, following the Baltimore series, the Nats go on a season-long 10-day road trip Aug. 10-19 to New York, Baltimore and Atlanta.

Corbin is 2-5 with a 4.46 ERA against the Mets in 14 career games (13 starts), with 81 strikeouts in 78 2/3 innings. Last season, he went 1-1 with a 3.48 ERA in five starts against the Mets, striking out 39 batters in 31 innings.

It will be a full nine days since his last start, an impressive 6 1/3 innings against the Yankees July 26. He allowed one run on two hits with eight strikeouts and no walks. He surrendered only a solo homer to Gleyber Torres in the seventh. His ERA is 1.42.

“I was just trying to go out there and throw strikes, quality strikes against this team,” Corbin said on Zoom that night. “Try to minimize as many mistakes as I could. I thought we did a good job getting ahead of these guys with our fastball, throwing it inside, outside, mixing it up, up and down, and throwing some straight sliders and then getting them to chase later on. (I) was in a rhythm with Yan (Gomes) all day. Felt good for the first time out there, being able to go out there, throw strikes and try to be as efficient as I can.

“The homer was just a low heater in. Probably would have liked it a little more in, but this is a good lineup here. You try to limit them. Solo homers aren’t going to kill you. Just maybe would have liked to get it in a little bit more.”

Coming off another long layoff, the Nats could use another solid start from their left-hander, who really had the best first game of any of the Nats’ frontline starters. The Nats just hope that the nine days between starts will not hurt his rhythm, or Castro’s either.

* On Monday, the Mets recalled catcher Ali S├ínchez from their alternate training site. Right-hander Jared Hughes had been activated from the injured list Sunday. New York has announced left-hander Stephen Matz (0-1, 318 ERA) will start Tuesday’s opener against the Nats, while right-hander Rick Porcello (0-1, 13.50) will oppose Scherzer on Wednesday.

The Mets were 12-7 against the Nats in 2019.

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