Nationals asked for more night games

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez actively requested that the team play more night games this spring training.

Of the five teams on the Nationals’ preseason schedule, only the New York Mets, their rivals on Saturday, will get more Grapefruit League night games this year than Washington’s six.

“I think this gives the players a different perspective as far as preparing, because we do play night games and then we turn around and play in the day,” Martinez said. “Even when there’s a different lineup, players can get used to getting up after a night game and getting ready.”

The Puerto Rican manager is not the only one who wants the duels to start later.

“I would prefer that to happen all the time,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said.

Playing at night would serve several practical purposes, Martinez said. Especially in a preseason that was shortened due to a lockout.

It allowed him to watch Patrick Corbin, the likely opening-game starter, in his second batting practice of the preseason in the morning.

The left-hander Corbin threw 42 pitches over three simulated innings, in what was likely his last prep session before his first Grapefruit League start.

Then at night, Martinez watched Nelson Cruz, his newly acquired slugger, hit a double play and single to left field in his first game with the Nationals.

The team’s first four home preseason games begin at 6:05 p.m. The vast majority of Washington’s regular season games start later.

“Particularly in the last few weeks of the preseason, I always wondered why we didn’t play more night games so we could get ready for our schedules,” first baseman Josh Bell said.

Stadium lighting improvements allow teams to schedule more preseason night games.

Although the lights at the preseason complexes don’t match the luminosity of Major League fields, Martinez said the system at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, where his team plays, isn’t bad at all.

“They are some of the best lights out there,” he said.

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Nationals asked for more night games