Notes: Arms progressing; new celebrations

July 12th, 2020

Nationals manager Dave Martinez was happy to welcome back his team for Summer Camp workouts. When he saw his starting pitchers arrive at Nationals Park, that added an extra smile.

“I’m very encouraged that they followed what we put together for them during the off time,” Martinez said on Sunday. “They came in rip-roaring to go and they came in in good shape. It makes things a lot easier when nobody put on 15, 20 pounds. ... They look good.”

The starting four of , , and remained intact following last year’s World Series run. The fifth spot remains open, with and as the top candidates after Joe Ross elected to not play this season.

Scherzer is on pace to start in Saturday’s exhibition game against the Phillies, which would put him in line for Opening Day on July 23 against the Yankees. Strasburg threw 52 pitches on Friday, Corbin tossed 43 on Saturday and Sánchez reached 65 over four frames on Sunday.

“He wanted to try to push himself to get to that 60th pitch, and he said he felt good,” Martinez said of Sánchez. “Ever since he got here, he’s been really throwing a lot on the side. … We’ll see how he turns around tomorrow. But after the game, he was surprised in how good he felt.”

The pitchers had been progressing in their throwing programs when Spring Training was halted. This month, they are prepping for the start of the season in a condensed summer camp schedule. Each player has a road map planned out for them, and they are moving toward their goals.

“I threw three innings yesterday,” Corbin said. “I feel solid today to where I believe I’ll throw again tomorrow and get on a schedule and build up to four innings and then five innings. Hopefully, to be around six innings and try to get close to 100 pitches is kind of where I’m at. I feel pretty positive that I’ll be able to get there.”

The Nationals will get a look at more bullpen arms, too, when they hold intrasquad games this week. and are slated to throw on Monday.

Modified celebrations
belted a home run during Sunday’s workout. As he rounded the bases, he raised his arm for high-fives -- from a distance. Players are adjusting their celebratory gestures this season in accordance with health and safety protocol.

Could Trea lead the way?
Predicting who will pace statistical categories this season is challenging when there are 60 games on the schedule. That’s enough time for a sleeper pick to get hot, or a front runner to hit a slump.

“We’ve got over and unders on who’s going to win the home run count this year,” Martinez said. “Is it going to be 15? 17? Somebody’s going to get hot and streaky and hit 20? You don’t know. Who’s going to be that guy that hits .400 this year? We’re constantly talking about different things like that.”

Martinez believes he could have a front runner in his lineup. topped the National League in stolen bases in 2018 (43). He ranked second last season, when he also led all of baseball with 122 bolts.

“I push Trea,” Martinez said. “I said, ‘You could lead the league with stolen bases with 30.’ Who knows what can happen, but it’s going to be interesting.”

Night and day
After the first 10 workouts were held during the day, the Nats will shift to evenings starting on Monday. The objective is to get players back on the traditional night-game schedule during their intrasquad scrimmages. Their season opener on July 23 is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. ET.

“I want these guys to get accustomed to playing some night games,” Martinez said. “Also, too, it’s been hot. I mean, real hot. Maybe moving some of these games to night, we get a little bit of a break from that heat and give these guys a break.”

The Nationals face the Phillies on Saturday in a 6:05 p.m. exhibition game. Martinez is considering holding Sunday’s workouts in the afternoon to experience the customary weekend night game-day game rhythm.