His transaction log from this season with the Washington Nationals itself is prolonged: claimed off waivers on Might 4 from the San Francisco Giants. Recalled to the Nationals on June 17. Optioned on June 20. Recalled on July 13. Optioned on July 14. Recalled on July 17. Optioned on July 18. Recalled on July 30.
“I mean, it’s just kind of like the new normal,” Abbott stated about his position. “Last year, [I was] kind of learning the ropes and how to thrive in that chaos.”
Regardless of an incapacity to determine himself in a solidified position the previous two years, Abbott, 26, finds himself with a possibility to pitch each fifth day in a Nationals rotation decimated by accidents. Earlier than this 12 months, Abbott was drafted by the Chicago Cubs within the second spherical of the 2017 MLB draft. He labored his means up by way of their minor league system to make his main league debut on June 5, 2021.
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Three days later, he was optioned again to the Iowa Cubs, Chicago’s Class AAA affiliate. He was referred to as up and despatched again down three extra occasions every by the tip of July. He spent the ultimate two months of the 2021 season in Class AAA.
Throughout that hectic stretch, Abbott struggled to determine a routine earlier than outings. He remembers a recreation towards the New York Mets final 12 months during which he overworked himself, throwing 30 warmup pitches earlier than coming into in aid to face the Mets. He had began for Iowa three days earlier than.
“Disaster,” Abbott stated about final season. “I just couldn’t figure out the recovery process as much … and how to manage the workload. I think now, this year, I’ve been able to just know when to take the days, know when to step off the gas pedal a little bit more and not try to really push in and do something, hurt something, tweak something.”
Abbott was designated for task this 12 months by the Cubs on April 16, then traded to the Giants 5 days later. Two weeks later, the Nationals claimed him after San Francisco designated him for task.
This 12 months, Abbott has felt rather more comfy with the fixed change as a result of he had been there earlier than. When he will get referred to as up now, his preliminary emotion is pleasure earlier than he remembers that he has to pack shortly and make an almost six-hour drive to D.C. He did joke about two qualms with the trek total: Virginia drivers going too sluggish within the left lane, and the complicated exits leaving D.C. that left him misplaced on the way in which again to Rochester, N.Y., a number of occasions.
Nonetheless, Abbott stated the journey is a “beautiful drive” because of the trees and other nature that he doesn’t see where he lives in Arizona.
“When I got optioned last time, I stopped in Williamsport and saw the Little League World Series. The museum was closed, but I hope,” Abbott paused, earlier than correcting himself. “Well, I don’t hope. But eventually, if that does happen again, I’d go and see the museum and kind of just enjoy the drive back.”
Abbott prefers starting because of the strategy needed to attack a lineup, though he’s gained a new appreciation for relievers. He’s pitched out of the bullpen and started with Rochester, allowing him to test what stretches and warmups work best for each situation.
Now, he’ll have the opportunity to earn his spot in the Nationals’ rotation because of need, joining a handful of unproven players who were in Class AAA Rochester for long stretches of the season that now find themselves in the majors.
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Infielder Ildemaro Vargas, first baseman Joey Meneses and outfielder Josh Palacios have played since the Juan Soto/Josh Bell trade last Tuesday. Abbott is also on that list, especially given the pitchers ahead of him who have gone down this season: Stephen Strasburg, Joe Ross, Evan Lee and Jackson Tetreault were all either in the rotation or expected to be before the season but are out with injuries. Erick Fedde is currently on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation.
Abbott has seen mixed results in his two starts. He pitched five scoreless innings and went toe-to-toe with two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob DeGrom as both made their first start of the season. Then, he allowed seven runs and four homers in 3 2/3 innings against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.
For the past two years, Abbott’s “normal” has been being a pitcher who has had to adapt by the day. But does he hope that one day that changes?
“Oh, yeah, I hope not to [do both],” Abbott stated. “But it’s not something I can think about. … I’m taking it a day at a time. There’s nothing I can do about it. There’s nothing I can really say. I mean, what am I going to do? Pout and say no?
“I want to be up here, in any role, as long as I’m up here. I want to face the best hitters and you know they’re up here, not down there.”