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Davey Martinez: Nationals’ rookie Luis García needs to counter pitching adjustments

Nationals plan to keep sending rookie out there to play second base...

Washington Nationals v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

PHILADELPHIALuis Garcia, 20, came back to the dugout here Tuesday night and told his manager he knew that Phillies’ ace Aaron Nola was going to throw him breaking balls.

“I just swung at them,” noted Garcia, according to Dave Martinez.

And the reaction of the skipper?

“That is him being young,” Martinez told reporters before Wednesday’s game with Philadelphia.

Garcia doubled in his first at-bat Tuesday then fanned against right-hander Nola in his next two trips.

The rookie second baseman has just one hit in his last five games through Tuesday and his average has fallen to .259.

“It is all about recognizing what they are trying to do you and picking it up,” Martinez said before Wednesday’s game against the Phillies.

“We talk to him a lot about hitting with two strikes, taking his walks. Not to chase so much: he loves to put the ball in play. He has such good bat-to-ball skills.”

“You need to sit back and wait for a pitch you can drive and go from there. He has to learn how to hit with the counts. Just because you are (up) 1-0 doesn’t mean you have to swing at the next pitch. If you are (up) 2-0 you are sitting in the driver’s seat. He is very smart,” Martinez added.

Making adjustments is what the hitter vs. pitcher battle is all about. And Martinez noted the difference between Garcia and Juan Soto, who broke into the majors in 2018.

“You talk about Garcia: at the other end of the spectrum is Juan … sometimes (the adjustment) is within an at-bat. He has the knack to do that and that is what makes him special,” Martinez said.

Garcia was at the alternate site in Fredericksburg before he joined the taxi squad in New York for the series with the Mets last month.

He then made the trip to Baltimore and made his Major League debut there on August 14.

Garcia began his pro career in the Gulf Coast League in 2017. He split the next season between low Single-A Hagerstown of the South Atlantic League high Single-A Potomac of the Carolina League.

Last year, Garcia played in 129 games and hit .257 with an OPS of .617 with Double-A Harrisburg in the Eastern League.

He had six hits in the first four games in the majors and had a pair of three-hit outings in his first eight contests in the majors.

Now pitchers are adjusting – and Garcia will have to do the same.

“He puts the ball in play,” Martinez said. “You can tell he has no fear. He is holding his own. We think he is doing okay. He is learning; we will keep putting him out there.