Victor Robles took a full round of batting practice this afternoon. He was not, however, in the Nationals lineup for Game 4 of the National League Division Series, with club officials not wanting to take any chances he might severely injure his already strained right hamstring.
“He’s still a little bit sore,” manager Davey Martinez said. “He’ll be available to pinch-hit, but that’s it.”
Robles, who hurt himself trying to run out a bunt during Game 2 at Dodger Stadium on Friday night, did not appear in Game 3 despite Martinez’s public declaration that he might be able to pinch-hit. The rookie center fielder did take part in BP today and was hoping he might be able to talk his manager and training staff into letting him play.
They declined his request.
“He says he could go,” Martinez said. “Talked to the doctors, talked to the trainers. (They) just don’t want him, especially the way he plays, doing anything. Hopefully we get through today and he’s ready to go for the next game.”
Tonight’s matchup, with left-hander Rich Hill starting for the Dodgers, perhaps helped make the decision a bit easier. Michael A. Taylor has had some quality at-bats over the last two weeks - he’s 6-for-10 dating to Sept. 26 - and given his defensive prowess, he may not be much of a drop-off overall from Robles.
If the Nationals win tonight and force a Game 5 at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday against right-hander Walker Buehler, they would probably be more willing to push Robles to play.
With Taylor starting back-to-back games, the Nats have only one lineup change from Game 3 to Game 4. Ryan Zimmerman, who is 6-for-12 with a double, two homers and three walks in his career versus Hill, gets the nod at first base.
Howie Kendrick, meanwhile, moves back to second base, bumping Brian Dozier to the bench. Kendrick has had a rough series at the plate (2-for-11, one RBI), in the field (two errors at first base in Game 1) and on the bases (ran into an out in Game 3), but the veteran remains one of the team’s most productive bats and thus remains in the No. 5 spot of Martinez’s lineup.
“Howie’s been our guy,” the manager said. “He’s had an unbelievable year. He puts the ball in play. I’m not going to say he hasn’t hit, because he’s hit some balls pretty hard during the series.”