WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The Nationals are fielding a lineup loaded with regulars tonight. Well, loaded with healthy regulars. A few guys who normally would be playing remain sidelined with nagging ailments.
The list includes Adam Eaton, who departed Tuesday’s game with a tight left hamstring. The veteran right fielder apparently didn’t think the injury was serious and only came out of the game after mentioning it to teammate Howie Kendrick, who then informed manager Davey Martinez.
Martinez doesn’t sound particularly concerned about the situation.
“Eaton, he’s good,” the manager said. “Just tightness. But like I said, it’s spring training. He’s been down here since Jan. 3, so he’s already biting at the bit.”
Victor Robles remains out of the lineup eight days after he aggravated his right side making a throw to third base. The center fielder has been progressing in his activities, though; he’s been hitting and taking some light swings.
Martinez described Robles’ status as “day-to-day” but said throwing and running are the primary concerns at this point.
“The swing’s not bothering him. It’s the throwing and a little bit on the running - stopping - that he feels it,” the manager said. “But not bad. He said he’s getting better every day. I watched him on the elliptical machine the other day. He was moving pretty good. I thought I go pretty fast. He made me look slow.”
Andrew Stevenson is playing right field and batting second tonight in place of Eaton, with Michael A. Taylor subbing for Robles in center field and batting ninth. The Nationals have no shortage of first base options and tonight have Kendrick in the field with Ryan Zimmerman serving as DH.
They do not, however, have Eric Thames, who hasn’t played since Feb. 25 due to tightness in his left calf. Martinez said the veteran slugger was set to participate fully in afternoon drills today and is “probably going to play this weekend.”
Will Harris, the only member of the bullpen who has yet to pitch in a game due to an abdominal strain, told Martinez he felt fine today after throwing off the mound.
Stephen Strasburg, meanwhile, threw three “innings” in an extended bullpen session Wednesday that included roughly 53 pitches. Strasburg, who made his Grapefruit League debut Feb. 28, could’ve elected to take an extra day of rest and start tonight against the Cardinals. Instead, the right-hander chose to come in on the team’s off-day and throw off the mound. He’ll rejoin the rotation the next time his turn comes up.
Update: Patrick Corbin had two very good innings tonight. Unfortunately, they were sandwiched around one very shaky inning in which he allowed three straight extra-base hits (including Andrew Knizner’s towering home run to left-center). Corbin wound up allowing three runs on four hits over three innings, striking out five. He threw 35 of his 53 pitches for strikes. Not great, but there were hints of bright spots in there. At the plate, the Nats haven’t done much of anything vs. Carlos Martínez. Juan Soto’s rope of a leadoff double in the second is all they’ve managed so far, and so they trail 3-0 after three.
Update II: Sean Doolittle entered for the top of the fifth, only his second appearance of the spring. And it did not go well. Doolittle immediately gave up a single to Edmundo Sosa and then a towering homer to Tommy Edman on a high, 90 mph fastball. He later walked a batter and gave up an RBI double on a rarely used slider. It was a ragged outing, though again, this was only Doolittle’s second appearance. Safe to say he’s behind everyone else. Speaking of behind, the Nats trail 6-0 after five.
Update III: There have not been many positives for the Nationals tonight, not many at all. They currently trail 11-0 in the seventh. Daniel Hudson was the most recent victim of the punishment, allowing four runs on four straight hits in the top of the seventh, including a two-run homer.
Final update: Cardinals pitching scattered six Nationals hits while running away with this one. Soto had two of them. Final score: Cards 11, Nats 0.