The final missing piece of the Nationals lineup has joined the club at last.
Victor Robles was spotted in the home dugout during tonight’s exhibition opener against the Phillies, the center fielder having completed his District of Columbia-mandated quarantine more than two weeks after Nats summer training opened.
Robles was part of a large group of Nationals players that traveled to Washington from the Dominican Republic, one of whom tested positive for COVID-19 during Major League Baseball’s intake screening process. Everyone on board was required to quarantine for at least 14 days, per D.C.’s protocols, but while others including Juan Soto were cleared to join workouts previously, Robles was forced to wait until today.
The second-year center fielder wasn’t in uniform for tonight’s game, one of three exhibitions the Nationals will play before opening night. Manager Davey Martinez said he worked out this afternoon and is scheduled to face live pitching during Sunday’s workout.
“We’re going to have to take it one day at a time with him,” Martinez said. “He moved around pretty good. He said he felt good. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. I saw him after the game and he said he feels OK. A little tired, but he’ll bounce back tomorrow.”
With only five days to go before the season opener against the Yankees, the Nats may have no choice but to give Robles more time and start the 60-game season with Michael A. Taylor in center field. The expanded, 30-man roster to open the season, though, does afford them the opportunity to activate Robles even if he’s not playing every day at the outset.
“It’s a good possibility,” Martinez said. “We’ll have to see how much he can handle right now. It’s Saturday. We open up on Thursday. He’s not going to get a whole lot of at-bats. We’ll see. My biggest concern with him is he’s a runner. He plays really hard. You can’t tell him not to go out there and play at 100 percent, because he’s not going to listen. We have to be very careful with how we handle him.”