Notes: Martinez misses fans; Romero's role

August 20th, 2020

When a manager begins a pregame press conference with a statement, there usually is an important team-related update to share with the media. On Wednesday, Dave Martinez’s announcement was directed to the fans.

“We miss them. The boys miss them,” the Nationals' manager said before their series finale in Atlanta was postponed because of rain.

The Nats have emphasized their relationship with the fans throughout the season, especially as it pertains to sharing in the excitement of defending their World Series championship. Fan videos have been played on the Jumbotron at home games, and the team looks forward to when those faces are back in the stands.

“No matter how much crowd noise we get in these games, it’s not the same,” Martinez said. “We hope you’re all safe, you’re staying healthy. We miss you guys and hope to see you real soon.”

Romero’s role with the Nationals

The Nationals will play their first doubleheader of the season on Saturday, when they make up a postponed game against the Marlins. Max Scherzer will start in the first game, and they are considering who will take the mound for the evening matchup. Erick Fedde, who was slated to pitch in Wednesday’s postponed game, could be an option.

One pitcher the Nationals would like to keep in the bullpen for now is left-hander Seth Romero. The Nats’ No. 11 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018 and had not pitched in nearly two years before making his Major League debut last Thursday.

“I would say if he didn’t have Tommy John surgery and he was stretched out, yeah, I’d like to see him get the start,” Martinez said. “But because we’re trying to limit his innings, I think he’s going to be fine and do well as a bullpen guy for right now.”

Romero has thrown 2 1/3 innings over two outings, including a scoreless two-thirds of a frame in Tuesday's victory.

“We’ve got to be very, very cautious,” Martinez said. “I’d like to go, if I could for right now, if we don’t need him, just kind of guy every other day with him until he gets used to coming out of the bullpen.”

Health updates on Kendrick, Doolittle

Howie Kendrick has not played since Aug. 14 because of tight hamstrings, and he could return to the lineup when the Nationals open their home series against the Marlins on Friday.

“We feel with the [scheduled] day off tomorrow, he might be ready to go Friday,” Martinez said. “We’ll see and then we’ll re-evaluate come Friday.”

Martinez believes Kendrick “probably” could have pinch-hit in Tuesday’s win over the Braves, but he didn’t want to push the veteran infielder/designated hitter, whose bat is key to their lineup.

“He’s getting close, and I don’t want to risk him hitting a ball in the gap and him stretching out for a double and reinjure it and then we lose him for three or four weeks,” Martinez said. “I know it’s kind of frustrating that he’s not in the lineup. We love when he’s in the lineup. But then again, I’ve said this before, I’m going to take care of him and get him right.”

Sean Doolittle (right knee fatigue) threw 20 pitches on Wednesday at the alternate training site in Fredericksburg, Va. He felt “OK” after, according to Martinez. The team is off on Thursday, and the personnel at the alternate training site follows the same schedule. Doolittle could throw to live hitters as soon as Friday.