CHICAGO - The Nationals’ lineup wasn’t exactly built with American League baseball in mind, but the lineup Davey Martinez will be fielding the next two nights in a quick interleague series with the White Sox certainly fits the profile.
Martinez recently has had room to start only two of the three players who make up the right side of his infield: Howie Kendrick, Brian Dozier and Matt Adams. That was less of a problem when Dozier was slumping or Adams was on the injured list, but now all three are healthy and productive.
That forced one of the three to the bench all weekend in San Diego. If things go as planned, though, all three will be able to start the next two nights here in Chicago.
Kendrick gets the call as the designated hitter tonight, and Martinez said he’ll probably stick with that plan tomorrow, helping the 35-year-old avoid some wear and tear on his body.
“It works really well,” Martinez said. “We could’ve gone either-or, with Matt Adams as DH. But it helps Howie stay off his feet a little bit while he still gets four or five at-bats.”
Martinez said the decision to use Kendrick as DH was easy for him. At this point, the manager is trying to find every possible way to keep the red-hot hitter playing without risking injury.
“The biggest thing with him is keeping him healthy,” Martinez said. “I look at Howie, and I truly believe with what he’s done, he’s an All-Star. He really is. I just want to keep him going, keep him healthy. And giving him the next two days as the DH will be nice.”
* Trevor Rosenthal is active in the Nationals’ bullpen for the third straight day. Might this be the day he finally makes his return to game action?
It’ll depend on the situation, with Martinez ideally preferring to use the right-hander in a low-leverage spot after his 30-day rehab assignment to get right after a wretched start to his season. But Martinez also knows he can’t wait too long to put Rosenthal out there. Otherwise, it defeats the purpose.
“I don’t want to keep him sitting there for four or five days,” he said. “The game will dictate how he pitches and when he pitches. I definitely want to get him in there.”
Does that make for a difficult balancing act, needing to get Rosenthal back into action but also needing to do everything possible to win a close game?
“It’s tough,” Martinez said. “I’m constantly looking at situations where maybe we could use him. Even if it’s for just an out. Just to get him back out there. But we’ll see how today goes.”
Update: The Nationals have the early lead tonight. Not that you should be surprised. They’ve now held a lead at some point in 18 of their last 19 games. It’s 2-0 here after three innings thanks to Suzuki’s sacrifice fly in the top of the second, then Trea Turner’s triple and Adam Eaton’s RBI single in the top of the third. Meanwhile, Aníbal Sánchez has retired nine of the 10 batters he has faced, and that lone baserunner came via a walk. Sánchez has needed only 30 pitches to complete three scoreless innings.
Update II: Turner appears to have his power stroke back. He homered yesterday. He tripled earlier tonight. And now he has homered again. Looks like his index finger is doing better. Nats lead 3-0 after five.
Update III: Turner is up to something special tonight. He just doubled in another run, and that means he’s now a single shy of his second career cycle. Sánchez finally gave up his first run in the bottom of the sixth. He’s only at 65 pitches, but the White Sox lineup is seeing him for the third time, with the Nats leading 4-1.