As Taylor heads for MRI, Martinez knows Nats lack OF depth

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Washington Nationals outfielder Michael A. Taylor favored his left leg as he limped through the clubhouse Friday before heading to have an MRI exam on his sore knee and hip.

Manager Dave Martinez called the test precautionary — but he also acknowledged that the Nationals are thin at Taylor’s position right now.

“You’re correct: There’s no outfield depth,” Martinez said after a reporter brought up the issue.

It’s not merely that Bryce Harper is now with the Philadelphia Phillies, a year after another starter, Jayson Werth, left the Nationals. The club traded away two backups last season, and while Adam Eaton is a veteran starter, Juan Soto was an unexpected revelation at 19 in 2018, and Victor Robles appears ready to make the opening day roster at 21, Taylor is the only other sure thing in the outfield.

Taylor said his knee and hip stiffened up shortly after he made a diving catch in center during the second inning of Washington’s 10-4 exhibition victory over Minnesota on Thursday.

“I went to slide, and the outfield was a little soft, and my knee stuck in the ground,” Taylor said.

In the moment, Martinez said, “It was kind of scary. I ran out of the dugout right away, because it didn’t look too good.”

While waiting to find out the news on Taylor, Martinez needs to start figuring out his other outfield options.

Matt Adams, a backup first baseman, was scheduled to be in the starting lineup for Washington’s Grapefruit League game Friday against the New York Mets. Of the more than 470 starts Adams has made in his major league career, only 30 came in left.

Martinez said that Wilmer Difo, a backup infielder, also will see time in the outfield in the coming days.

Another utility player who can play in the outfield, Howie Kendrick, is working his way back after straining his left hamstring in a game on March 5. Martinez said Kendrick is not yet running at full speed.

Notes: Newly signed LHP Tony Sipp said he’s been throwing two bullpen sessions a week since January. “But,” the reliever added, “still always different when you get a batter in the box. I haven’t thrown to live batters. The arm is ready. Just kicking it into the next gear is going to be a challenge here in the next two weeks.” Washington opens the regular season on March 28. Sipp threw a side session of 35 pitches Thursday, and Martinez said: “My biggest thing with him — and I talked to him yesterday — is: ‘As much as we want you for opening day, you missed significant time in spring training, so hopefully you’re ready. But if you’re not, you’re not. But we want you to be fully ready, so if it takes you an extra three or four appearances down here, so be it.’”

Source: Fox Sports

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