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Nats have contingency plans for missing players

Kendrick, Robles, Soto among Nats absent from Summer Camp so far
@jessicacamerato
July 11, 2020

One week from the first exhibition game and less than two from Opening Day, the Nationals have yet to have all of their players cleared to participate in workouts. Among that group are key pieces to their roster -- Howie Kendrick, Victor Robles and Juan Soto. As the July 23

One week from the first exhibition game and less than two from Opening Day, the Nationals have yet to have all of their players cleared to participate in workouts. Among that group are key pieces to their roster -- Howie Kendrick, Victor Robles and Juan Soto.

As the July 23 opener against the Yankees nears, the Nats are exploring contingency plans in case their lineup has holes in it.

“Once they get here, we’ll determine whether they’re going to be ready or not,” said manager Dave Martinez. “I definitely am looking at guys to fill that void if they can’t get off the ground running the first week or two. We’re definitely looking at some different options.”

The Nationals are following the health and safety protocols laid out by MLB; two asymptomatic Nats tested positive for COVID-19 on their intake tests. Players whose intake tests were negative but may have come in contact with someone who tested positive were tested again. In order to report to the park, players who test positive must be symptom-free for 72 hours and then test negative twice at least 24 hours apart.

“Right now, we’re taking days one day at a time,” Martinez said. “I’ve got to put eyes on these guys and see where they’re at. I know Soto was actually working out pretty good in the Dominican back home. So was Robles. We talked to the strength and conditioning guys. They think they’re in really good shape, they worked really hard. We’ll have to get them on the field.”

Martinez is concerned about the players’ health once they get back into baseball action; doing cardio and lifting weights is different than competing in a game. With a condensed 60-game schedule and less time to recover, injuries will prove more costly.

“We’re in a difficult situation -- we really are -- with these guys,” Martinez said. “We’ve done everything we can. I know our strength guys have Zoomed with them and actually have put them on some kind of workout program and are watching them do what they can do in their apartment. You’re talking about some of our younger players, too, so we don’t want to get them hurt. We’ve got to be smart, but we’re also talking about a shorter season where we need to win games right away.”

Last year, Robles was a Gold Glove Award finalist in center field, Soto tied for the team high of 34 home runs and put on a show in the postseason, and Kendrick pulled off World Series heroics. Their absences in the lineup would be noticeable, to say the least.

“Hopefully, these guys will be here soon, but only time will tell,” Martinez said. “For right now, I’m going to focus on the guys we’ve got and try to get them as ready for July 23.”

Corbin throws sim game
Left-hander Patrick Corbin took the mound on Saturday to toss three frames in a sim game. Corbin previously logged nine innings over three starts with a 4.00 ERA in Spring Training.

“Pat threw the ball well,” Martinez said. “We wanted to keep him under 40 pitches. He threw 43, but he said he felt good. So we’ll go from there. But the biggest thing was get him three ups today, and he did well.”

Corbin follows Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg in throwing a sim game during Summer Camp.

Summer Camp quotable
“We’re going to go through so many balls. Whoever does the bat boy job better be in shape -- that’s all I can say -- because they’re going to be running to the umpires quite a bit.” -- Martinez

Jessica Camerato covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacamerato, Facebook and Instagram.