Martinez being careful with Kendrick; updates on Strasburg, Castro

He owns two of the most meaningful home runs in Nationals history. So when Howie Kendrick is not available, it certainly changes the makeup of the lineup and the quick strike ability for this club.

A grand slam to beat the Dodgers and a go-ahead foul pole-clanging two-run homer against in World Series Game 7 against the Astros will forever go down in Nats lore. Those big hits might have made some forget that Kendrick fought through a left hamstring strain that kept him out of the lineup for 11 days at the beginning of August last season. And with the way this season has gone, Nats manager Davey Martinez is facing a similar situation with Kendrick in mid-August this time around.

So going back to how he handled things last year benefits his planning.

“It helps me out a lot,” Martinez said during today’s pregame Zoom conference session. “This is all based on conversations that I have with him every day and he’s pretty honest with me. If he feels like he can go out there and push it a little bit, he will tell me and we just got to be smart. I know it’s a shortened season, but we want him for the duration of the season.

“We don’t want to lose him for three weeks. If we lose him for three weeks, then that’s pretty much game over. We want to make sure when he comes back that he is good to go and we can use him. There are going to be times where I am just going to have to give him the day to recover.”

Kendrick-Home-Run-Swing-Red-Away-Sidebar.jpgKendrick has not played since Friday night. He has sat out a few games this season with a tight hamstring. Martinez is maintaining caution with his veteran slugger. Kendrick has been the designated hitter in his last six appearances, but is not in tonight’s starting lineup. However, the good news is Kendrick is available in a pinch.

“I talked to him this morning,” Martinez said. “He said he felt better. He was going to come in today and get treatment and maybe do some running. But he said he’d be available to pinch hit today which is kind of nice.”

* Martinez did not have a pregame update on right-hander Stephen Strasburg or second baseman Starlin Castro, both of whom are on the injured list.

Strasburg was set to take nerve tests in his right hand today.

“He had his tests,” Martinez said. “We are still waiting to hear back from the doctor. I know he is scheduled to get more tests throughout this week, but from the first results, we haven’t heard anything yet. I talked to our director of athletic training, Paul Lessard, and he is still waiting to hear from the doctors.

“We are going to go through all these different protocols with him. I know he did these tests today. He’s scheduled to see someone else in the next couple of days.”

Castro had a CT scan on his broken right wrist, but no results have been released by Martinez.

“No update yet,” he said. “I plan on calling Starlin myself, but I haven’t heard anything. He’s going to be out a while. He wanted to get a second opinion.”

* For the series in Atlanta, the Nats have set their five-person taxi squad, which must include a catcher. Left-hander Ben Braymer is joined by right-hander Wil Crowe, infielder Jake Noll, catcher Raudy Read and outfielder Andrew Stevenson. Noll and Read are right-handed hitters and Stevenson hits from the left side.

“I sat down with general manager Mike Rizzo, myself and assistant general manager of player development Mark Scialabba, who is keeping an eye on Fredericksburg, Martinez said. “We wanted a couple of guys that could give us length on the bump if need be. And also Jake Noll has been really swinging the bat really, really well. So we thought we’d keep him around just in case something happens.”

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