All teams deal with their share of Spring Training maladies, and the fortunate teams are the ones dealing with minor tweaks and bruises to key players. The Nationals now have three players on the unofficial injured list with minor issues, and they are Will Harris (side), Victor Robles (side), Eric Thames (calf), and Adam Eaton (hamstring). With twenty-two days to Opening Day, the Washington Nationals have 18 game days remaining on the schedule. Position players need about fifty at-bats to get their timing going, and many players will get some of those at-bats on the Minor League side. Manager Dave Martinez will not rush back any of his nicked up players, and that is a wise move.
“It just got tight — nothing major, but I’m just not going to take a chance,” Martinez said of Eaton’s hamstring issue today. “He said something to Howie [Kendrick], and Howie told me and I said, ‘Get [Eaton] out.’ You know him, he’s never happy (to be pulled from a game), but I said we’re not going to take any chances right now. If we were during the season, I probably wouldn’t have taken him out, but we’re going to be very cautious with these guys right now.”
Finally, we also got out first official answer on Eric Thames who has not played since February 25th. He has been out of action for 9 days, and today was the first day that a member of the media inquired about his status. As it turns out when Martinez was asked about Thames status, he said his first baseman has been dealing with left calf tightness. The manager went on to say that he expects Thames to return this weekend and most likely as a designated hitter.
“At this time of year, I’m going to do everything with caution,” Martinez said. “[Thames] is swinging. He’s taking ground balls. He’s doing everything. I told him there’s no sense of pushing it.”
On the status of Robles, he is still day-to-day with that tweak of his left-side. Again, no rush with him as he has been working out in non-game conditions.
“I anticipate maybe this weekend,” Martinez said. “We’ll see how he reacts. He hit pretty good in the cage today so we’ll see how he reacts tomorrow.”
Along with the injured players, the Nats have a few players who are struggling with their bats. Small sample sizes and BABIP will certainly distort a statline. Unfortunately, Starlin Castro is one of those without a statline as he does not have a hit so far. Another one of the struggling bats is the one player everyone wanted to see have a big spring and that is Carter Kieboom who got moved back to a reserve role today. He replaced Asdrubal Cabrera at third base, and then went 2-for-2 in the game with two singles to raise his batting average to .214. This morning, Martinez did a radio interview on 106.7 The Fan and this time put in out there that it is Kieboom’s job, but he can lose it. In sports, that is known as “his job to lose” and there is no objective line
“As of right now, it’s his job to lose,” Martinez told the Sports Junkies on their radio show. “Carter Kieboom comes into spring training having the third base job. He’s gotta earn it but it’s his job.”
For now, the young Kieboom has to build on what he did yesterday. It is one day at a time in this game of baseball. Martinez says it is his job to lose, and on Tuesday he didn’t lose a thing.