Manager Dave Martinez announced after today’s game that the Washington Nationals have promoted INF Jake Alu from Triple-A Rochester and have placed OF Victor Robles on the 10-day IL with back soreness. Alu might have made the team out of Spring Training if not for an injury that seemed to have lingered and kept most in the dark as he was out for most of the month of March. It was not until April 13 for Alu to return to a Triple-A game.
Robles suffered a back injury while attempting to steal second base at the beginning of Saturday’s game and was later replaced by Alex Call in the lineup. Martinez told the media he has “some concern” in regard to Robles’s injury, but clearly the injury worsened.
Robles, 25, has been swinging the bat well at the plate to start the season, slashing .292/.388/.360 in 107 plate appearances and leading the team in batting average and OPS. Furthermore, the outfielder has recorded eight stolen bases and continues to find ways to get on base. In addition, he’s lowered his strikeout percentage dramatically (23.9%) and has been one of the hottest hitters for the Nationals to start the year.
However, it’s not all sunshine for Robles as he’s seen a significant decline in his defensive play as he’s recorded -2 OAA (outs above average) per Statcast that has him ranked second to last at his position, and -8 DRS (defensive runs saved) which ranked last for center fielders. And just by watching the center fielder, he doesn’t have the same proficiency he used to. It is a reversal of fortune for Robles as a player who has fallen behind on defense but doing much better on offense. Robles signed a contract extension during the offseason for $3.3 million which gives the team cost control over Robles through 2024.
Alu, 26, was drafted by the Nationals in the 24th round of the 2019 MLB draft, and he was added to the 40-man roster in the offseason. The Boston College alum was ranked the 27th Nationals prospect and was expected to debut with the Nationals this season. He spent most of his 2022 season with Double-A Harrisburg, where he slashed .281/.360/.470 in 285 at-bats. Furthermore, the infielder recorded 80 hits with 36 RBIs and nine homers. Alu has registered 75 at-bats this season, hitting .240/.318/.333 for Triple-A Rochester. Alu could be used as a depth piece at the hot corner as Nationals third-baseman Jeimer Candelario has missed consecutive games. Candelario was taken to the hospital after Friday’s game as he was dehydrated but was released the following morning. Candelario was in good spirits when he talked to reporters before the series finale.