The biggest news in the world of the Washington Nationals this week was the players-only meeting they held after being swept by the Boston Red Sox. It was unprecedented and seemingly necessary, and it raised a few natural questions about the relationship of this team to its rookie manager. Dave Martinez said Thursday he had no problem with the assembly.
“I like it,” Martinez said. “I’ve been in a lot of players meetings, and everybody gets a chance to speak up. It shows a sense of accountability, and they take ownership in those meetings. I think it’s a good thing.”
Martinez said he didn’t know who called the meeting. He said he didn’t know exactly what was said and would prefer not to. He heard the message was something along the lines of “make sure we all stay together and are in this for the long haul.” He supports that message and understands why he couldn’t be the one to deliver it.
“I’ve delivered all kinds of messages. I think they felt it was time to take a little ownership, and it’s always good,” Martinez said. “Accountability is really good. I’m proud of those guys, whoever decided to have the meeting. . . . They all got together and got to speak up.”
The Nationals have struggled before. They haven’t addressed it this way, at least not to public knowledge. If the first step to fixing a problem is admitting it exists, Martinez initiated the public part of that process. He introduced the idea of urgency in a postgame news conference. He was the first to cite the need for accountability. The meeting made clear what has been evident in conversations all week, that this team is realizing it’s no longer early and it is running out of time to turn things around.
“You’ve got to remember what this team’s already been through. Forty-five different players in the last couple months. They get it. They fought through it,” Martinez said. “We’ve had good month, bad month, good month. But they get it. Here we are, still playing to get in the playoffs, and they understand that. They just want to keep everything together. I think that’s the biggest thing.”
His team has, indeed, been through a lot. It has used more players than any team in the majors. Injuries won’t stop striking. Erick Fedde was the most recent victim, and the Nationals placed him on the disabled list Thursday with “right shoulder inflammation.” Fedde’s MRI exam showed no structural damage, and the team is optimistic the injury is similar to Stephen Strasburg’s — something that will require time off but not surgery and will not end his season.
Right-hander Jefry Rodriguez replaced Fedde on the active roster Thursday, and he might have to pitch immediately. Scheduled starter Jeremy Hellickson was violently ill Wednesday night, battling a stomach bug that rendered Spencer Kieboom inactive Wednesday and sent Shawn Kelley, Anthony Rendon and others to fight off its effects at times over the last few weeks. Hellickson is going to start Thursday’s game, though the Nationals are preparing to use Rodriguez in long relief should he find himself too ill to continue.
Elsewhere, Matt Wieters ran the bases before Thursday’s game and could go on a rehab assignment as soon as this weekend, Martinez said. Ryan Zimmerman will test himself on the bases this weekend and could be ready to play minor league games as soon as Sunday or Monday.
Left-handed reliever Tim Collins, whom the Nationals designated for assignment to make room for Matt Adams on Sunday, cleared waivers and will report to Class AAA Syracuse, according to a person familiar with the situation. The Nationals hoped to keep Collins in the organization and will now be able to call him back up to the big leagues should they find a spot for him.
MIAMI MARLINS (36-52)
Derek Dietrich LF
Brian Anderson RF
J.T. Realmuto C
Justin Bour 1B
Martin Prado 3B
Cameron Maybin CF
Miguel Rojas 2B
Yadiel Rivera SS
Pablo Lopez P
WASHINGTON NATIONALS (41-42)
Trea Turner SS
Juan Soto LF
Anthony Rendon 3B
Bryce Harper RF
Matt Adams 1B
Daniel Murphy 2B
Michael A. Taylor CF
Pedro Severino C
Jeremy Hellickson P