Getting to the major leagues is tough, but staying there is an even greater challenge.
Nationals outfielder Victor Robles' demotion to Triple-A Rochester is a prime example of how difficult it is to stay in the majors year after year, as Ryan Zimmerman explained to the Sports Junkies Thursday morning.
"It shows you how tough it is to stay in the big leagues," Zimmerman said. "In  when we won it, I think [Robles] was a finalist for a gold glove. He hit .260-to-.270 with almost 20 home runs. One of the top defensive center fielders and he hits almost 20 home runs, I mean, those are the guys that you need on your team."
The 2020 and 2021 seasons have been a much different story for Robles. The former top prospect has struggled to hit better than .200 in the last two years combined, while his power numbers have disappeared almost completely.
Once Lane Thomas came in via the Jon Lester trade and started to hit, it became difficult to find Robles a spot in the lineup every day. Now with Rochester, he can get a more consistent helping of at-bats.
"I think he's got to go down to play [every day]," Zimmerman said. "Lane Thomas came over, he's been playing really well. [Yadiel Hernandez] has been hitting .300 pretty much the entire year. Obviously, Juan [Soto's] going to play right. So you can't have a guy like Vic sitting on the bench and pinch-hitting and not playing every day."
Robles seems to be making the most of his at-bats in Rochester, hitting a little-league home run on the first pitch he saw Wednesday night. Manager Davey Martinez is confident he'll get back to where he was, and Zimmerman echoed a similar sentiment Thursday.
The Nats believe Robles still has a role in the majors, it's just a matter of when he can relocate his swing and apply it in big-league games.
"When you have guys that are young, and [Robles] isn't super young anymore, but he's not a bench guy. So he's just got to go down there and get at-bats," Zimmerman said. "But I'm sure he'll be back up again. That shows you how quickly things can change, and it's a tough league man, it really is."