Third base is Carter Kieboom’s. Again.
The Nationals moved Kieboom from the alternate training site in Fredericksburg to the 28-man active roster on Saturday. Wilmer Difo was designated for assignment to make space on the roster.
Kieboom was sent to Fredericksburg on Aug. 25 after his average and slugging percentage each dropped to .200. He was demonstrably frustrated at the time. The Nationals were still in touch with a postseason spot, so they needed to make a change -- both for the sake of the team and Kieboom.
He’s back starting at third base Saturday. Davey Martinez said Kieboom will play there the rest of the season.
“We got to see what he can do,” Martinez said.
Kieboom’s two, brief, stints in the major leagues have produced poor results. They have also come in odd situations. First, Trea Turner’s finger was broken by a pitch, forcing Kieboom onto the field as the starting shortstop last season before he was ready. Next, the Nationals decided not to retain Anthony Rendon and instead approached coverage at third base with a mix of prospect (Kieboom) and veteran padding (Asdrúbal Cabrera). The decision was ambitious considering Kieboom made just nine starts at third base for Triple-A Fresno late last season.
His defense was the biggest concern to start. But, Kieboom’s lack of hitting overtook his rawness at third base as the largest problem.
“We wanted him to go down there and work on his swing,” Martinez said. “If we deemed he was ready in 10 days, we would bring him back up. He started hitting the ball really well. This was the 10th day and we were able to get him back up here.
“We know he can hit. We know he can play. He’s 22 years old and he’s one of our top prospects. He’s going to get the opportunity to play here and hopefully help us win some games.”
Martinez said he saw video of Kieboom’s at-bats, talked with Randy Knorr, who is in charge of the alternate training site, and received emails about Kieboom from Brian Daubach, who would be the Fresno hitting coach if there had been a minor-league season. They tried to get Kieboom “ready to hit fastballs,” Martinez said. They were pleased with the results, so he is back.
“Whatever you did down there, nothing changes,” Martinez said he told Kieboom. “Come up here and do the same thing. Go out there and have fun.”