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The Nationals made their first cuts of the spring this week, informing 19 players that they’re no longer in contention for the Opening Day roster. Most of the players that got the ax weren’t expected to begin the season in the majors, but the series of roster moves did provide some clarity as to who’s being considered Nike Washington Nationals Jerseys for the 26th spot on the active roster should it go to a position player.

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The most familiar name to Nationals fans is Gerardo Parra, the veteran outfielder who joined the team midway through the 2019 season and helped bring the clubhouse together in order to overcome a 19-31 start, largely with the walk-up song “Baby Shark.”

Parra spent the 2020 season in Japan before signing a minor-league deal with the Nationals over the offseason. He underwent knee surgery that sidelined him until Monday, when he made his Grapefruit League debut against the St. Louis Cardinals.

“He looked good,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said on a Zoom call after the game. “He ran well. Ran down some balls in the outfield. Cut a ball off and got it in quickly. He’s getting there. He looks good. Got a base hit. Hit the first ball pretty hard up the middle, but he looks good.”

Despite Parra’s endearment to the fanbase, he will have to beat out Jordy Mercer, Yasmany Tomás, Yadiel Hernández, Adrián Sanchez and Hernán Pérez. Mercer has the most experience of the group outside Parra, having played 904 career games across nine seasons — most of which were in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform.

Of those 904 games, Mercer has played shortstop in 837 of them. That could be a key factor in his case for a roster spot as the Nationals don’t currently have a backup shortstop slated to make the team behind Trea Turner. Young infielders Luis García and Yasel Antuna are the only other players on the 40-man roster capable of handling the position, but the Nationals are expected to start them in the minors to get them everyday at-bats.

“He’s just one of those steady guys,” Martinez said of Mercer on Monday. “He’s got great hands, can play multiple positions in the infield…good instincts, he’s a professional. He’s been doing this for a lot of years, he knows the situation, he knows his role. So having him out there is just another guy that you can depend on to get the job done.”

The other four spots on the Nationals’ bench will likely be filled by Ryan Zimmerman, Josh Harrison, Andrew Stevenson and Alex Avila.

Washington has just over two weeks before Opening Day to decide how it will fill that final spot, if at all.

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When the Washington Nationals signed outfielder Gerardo Parra to a minor league contract this offseason I thought for sure he’d make the 26-man roster out of spring training. I opined Yadiel Hernandez would ultimately be a loser in the transaction, as he would fall another rung on the depth chart.

Didn’t happen.

In fact, while Hernandez fights for a roster spot which may not happen, Parra’s days with the Nationals are numbered.

The emergence of outfielder Yadiel Hernandez this spring has most likely put an end to Gerardo Parra’s reunion tour with the Nationals.
The top four outfielders on the Nationals roster was set in stone when players arrived to camp this spring. With his hot Wholesale Washington Nationals Jerseys hitting thus far, Hernandez has pushed the envelope some on him breaking camp with the team, and sealed the fate of Parra.

While the left-handed hitting Hernandez is a long shot to make the team, behind the left handed hitting fourth outfielder, Andrew Stevenson, Parra has had trouble coming back from off-season knee surgery.

On the topic of Yadiel Hernandez, who’s mashing this spring, Dave Martinez said Thurs. that it’d be hard to carry an extra OF who doesn’t play all three spots. Hernandez doesn’t fit in CF. But if they wanted a LH bat on top of Andrew Stevenson or something, he’s showing a lot.

— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) March 21, 2021

Signed after a year playing in Japan, the Nationals had hoped Parra would bring back some of the clubhouse leadership and Parra Shark mystique he left town with after the 2019 World Series. To this point Parra has appeared in just three games this spring for the Nationals as he continues to rehab his barking knee.

The nostalgia is nice and keeping things loose is wonderful, though the bottom line for this business is contributing on the field. The 13 hits in 26 at-bats Hernandez has accumulated thus far this spring has made the decision to let Parra go, easier to make.

Parra will turn 34 years-old in a couple months and is slowed by injuries. Hernandez will also turn 34 this year, later in the season, and has done nothing but hit during his time in the Nationals system.

NEXT: Spring Training Notes
At this point the time has come to let Parra go and see if he can latch on with another organization before the season starts. As for the depth of the Nationals outfield, Yadiel Hernandez has earned himself the right to be the next man up.

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Davey Martinez shared a fun anecdote with reporters over the weekend when he talked about the adjustments Alex Avila is making as the veteran catcher, who signed with the Nationals on a 1-year/$1.5M free agent deal this winter, gets to Wholesale Washington Nationals Jerseys know his new team and works with a range of new pitchers on Washington’s roster.

“Today he caught Wander Suero,” Martinez said.

The hard-throwing, 29-year-old, cutter-heavy (81.6%) reliever apparently surprised Avila with the movement he gets.

“It’s funny. Wander in his warmups he threw a pitch and obviously it was a cutter, and [Avila] dropped the ball and I said, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’

“And he goes, ‘Cutter. I got it now.’

“I said, ‘Hey, be ready, because they all cut.’

“So it was kind of funny.”

Avila, 34, and a veteran of 12 big league seasons, has history with Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, and Jon Lester, but he acknowledged after signing on in D.C. that it would take some time to get to know the entire pitching staff in the nation’s capital.

“That will be part of the challenge going into Spring Training. I only know three of the guys on the staff, as far as Lester, Pat, and Max, so everyone will be a learning experience for me and that starts with video, that starts with conversations with them, conversations with Jim [Hickey] and Davey [Martinez] and Yan [Gomes].

“Yan, I’ll probably rely on the most as far as trying to figure out what makes these pitchers tick, and I think me and him are going to have a really great working relationship.”

His new manager, who was a bench coach in Chicago when Avila played for the Cubs, said that he’s confident the experienced backstop will get up to speed quickly in his new home.

“I really believe that,” he said, in explaining how the shared duties behind the plate with Yan Gomes would work. “I had Alex in Chicago and he does a great job, he really does with the pitchers. He handles everybody really well, so I don’t think it’s going to be an issue with him catching anybody, whether it’s left-handed or right-handed, so what I would like to do is — obviously Alex is a left-handed batter, against a righty, if we do need to give Yan a day off he’ll catch that day.

“We’ll figure all this stuff out as we get moving, but it’s nice to have both those guys. They’re both veteran catchers, which I like a lot.

“I know that Alex had Jon Lester over there [in Chicago], he caught Max a lot [in Detroit], so it’s nice that he’s familiar with some of these guys, and he’s getting familiar with all the guys.”

Gomes, who shared catching duties fairly evenly with Kurt Suzuki (now with the Angels) in 2019-20, is expected to get the bulk of the starts, with Avila more of a true backup. Gomes said he is excited about getting to know his former divisional rival in the American League Central better as they work to get ready for the start of the 2021 campaign.

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“It’s actually kind of similar as Kurt,” Gomes explained of the process of getting on the same page with his new partner.

“We played against each other for quite a few years when [Avila] was in Detroit and I was in Cleveland, so we’ve always built that relationship. We’ve known each other for a long time.

“As soon as we signed him I tried to get in contact with him and just kind of get to know him kind of get that little awkward stage of the first week of spring out of the way.

“I feel like we’ve kind of hit it off right away. We knew what our job is supposed to be like, we have a tremendous pitching staff, and I look forward to bouncing ideas off of him.”