Robles active but not starting, Fedde likely needs rehab start

Victor Robles is back on the Nationals’ active roster. He’s just not back in the Nationals’ starting lineup quite yet.

Though he was activated off the 10-day injured list this afternoon, Robles is not starting in tonight’s series opener at the Braves. Manager Davey Martinez, who got encouraging reports on the 24-year-old center fielder’s rehab game for Double-A Harrisburg on Sunday, did suggest he would likely be in the lineup Tuesday night, provided he gets through pregame work today with no issues with his sprained right ankle.

“I felt like if he was that good, get him here and let him get a workout and let him take batting practice and go through all the baseball activity,” Martinez said during his pregame Zoom session with reporters. “And then if he’s good, he’ll be available to (come off the bench) today. And hopefully he’ll (start) tomorrow.”

Robles-Diving-Catch-Gray-Sidebar.jpgRobles hurt himself 12 days ago in Chicago, his right ankle getting twisted as he rounded first base on a potential double. He went down in a heap and looked for a moment as if he had suffered a serious injury, but managed to get back on his feet and actually remained in the game for a couple more innings.

The Nationals wound up placing Robles on the IL three days later, backdating the transaction to the day after he got hurt. That made him eligible to return Sunday, when he went 1-for-4 with a double, two walks and a stolen base for Harrisburg at Bowie.

“I was able to watch some of the clippings. He ran fine,” Martinez said. “So that’s good. But I just want to get him out there and get him running baseball activities, so I can get eyes on him. And then we’ll go from there.”

Andrew Stevenson, who hit .231 (6-for-26) with zero extra-base hits and a .516 OPS in Robles’ place over the last week-plus, remains the center fielder and No. 8 hitter tonight. If everything goes as planned, Robles will return to the lineup Tuesday, though Martinez said he’ll probably bat ninth.

Despite the Nationals’ offensive woes, Martinez believes it’s best for now to keep Robles in a spot where he was performing well before suffering the injury. Over his last six games, he was batting .412 (7-for-17) with five doubles and a 1.206 OPS.

“I want him to have success,” the manager said. “I want him to get going. Once we get going and we feel like he’s got some consistency going on, we may try to move him up to the leadoff spot like we did in spring training. But for right now, he was doing well in the 9-hole. He was getting on base for the top of the order. So I want to keep him there for now.”

Meanwhile, though Erick Fedde traveled with the club to Atlanta, the right-hander doesn’t appear to be a candidate to start Wednesday night’s game.

Martinez said he believes Fedde (who remains on the COVID-19 IL but has been cleared to work out with the team) will need to make a rehab start after throwing four innings and 65 pitches in a simulated game Saturday at Nationals Park.

“I don’t want to have any setbacks with him,” the manager said. “He was throwing the ball well, and we’ve got to get him stretched out again.”

Because of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Brewers, the Nationals will need a fill-in starter Wednesday against the Braves. If Fedde isn’t the choice, their other options on the active roster are Paolo Espino and Austin Voth, who each have been pitching out of the bullpen.

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