Talking after the Washington Nationals stood pat at the 2020 MLB Trade Deadline this past Monday, manager Davey Martinez said that in spite of the fact that the club added to their infield depth in recent weeks, bringing in Josh Harrison and Brock Holt, both of whom had played second base predominantly in their careers, while moving around the infield and outfield, he planned to keep running 20-year-old rookie Luís García out at second base.
“We’re going to use Luis to play second base over there as much as possible,” Martinez said.
“Right now, I like him against right-handed pitchers, so he’s going to start against right-handed pitchers. But we want to see him play. I really believe out of any year to have a young kid up here to play, it’s now.
“There’s no fans, you’re still playing in the major leagues, but we want to see what he can do.
“But also too we want to make sure we protect him as well, and protect — he’s still young, and he’s still learning, so we want to make sure that we protect him as well.”
The “protect him” language Martinez used echoed some of what he said when the club sent 22-year-old infielder Carter Kieboom down to the Alternate Training Site in Fredericksburg.
“He was struggling,” Martinez said of the 2016 1st Round pick, who put up a .200/.359/.200 line in 64 PAs, with no extra base hits, “... and I want to protect him the best I can.
“I felt like ... he was playing more for results,” the skipper said after an 0 for 4 day at the plate for Kieboom the previous day, “... and when you start doing that, you start getting frustrated when you don’t get the hits.”
“As a young kid, you want to go out there, you want to impress, you want to help your team win, and then sometimes you get results-driven and you just want to get hits,” he added.
“You’ve got to go pitch-by-pitch, and try to get a good pitch to hit, and hit the ball hard, and you can’t control where they go, so hopefully we’ll figure something out for him and we’ll go from there.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Martinez was asked about making the decision to send Kieboom out while sticking with García, who started the third of four with the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park with a .259/.286/.370 line, three doubles, and a home run after 56 PAs.
“When we assessed Carter at the time he was trending downward,” Martinez explained.
“And we wanted to make sure that he didn’t just completely go downhill. We wanted to get him to kind of relax and get as many at bats as he needs without putting any pressure on himself. We’re watching him. He’s actually swinging the bat better. So we’ll see in the next week or so. I’d love to get him back up here and let him play.
“I want him to just gain some confidence again and then when he comes up here see what he can do.
“With Garcia, he comes up here, he puts the ball in play. You can tell he has no fear. When he strikes out, he doesn’t carry it on the field. He just goes out there and plays and has fun.
“They’re two different characters, and [García is] holding his own. If I saw something different then there would be a different conversation with [GM Mike Rizzo] and I. But we think he’s doing okay, he’s learning, so we’re going to keep running him out there for every game.”