Where Is Luis García?:
One game off didn’t draw any attention, but when Washington Nationals’ infielder Luis García was out of the lineup for a second consecutive game against Boston’s Red Sox, reporters asked manager Davey Martinez if something was up with the 21-year-old.
“He’s got soreness in his ribcage,” the fourth-year skipper said before Saturday’s game.
“He took some swings today and still felt it, so I don’t want to take any chances right now with him. We’ll see how the game goes, and we’ll see where he’s at.
“He’s getting treatment right now, but with two days left, I don’t want him to leave this year being super-hurt, so I’m going to keep an eye on him.”
García has been on a nice run in September, going 29 for 107 (.271/.291/.477) at the plate, with 11 doubles, a triple, and three home runs in 28 games and 110 plate appearances, in which he’d walked three times with 17 strikeouts.
As his manager said, however, with two games left on the regular season schedule, they didn’t want to push things and have García go into the winter injured.
“Yesterday, he tried to get loose, he said he felt a lot better during the game, but today he said he felt sore again. So Jordy [Mercer] is going to start again and we’ll see how he does today.”
And if you were wondering, it’s on García’s left side.
“It’s his left side. It’s actually all over, but he said he’s more complaining about his left side today,” Martinez said.
Rides Swims Swings Again:
Before the second of three with the Red Sox in D.C. on Saturday, the Nationals placed left-hander Josh Rogers on the 10-Day IL with a right hamstring strain, and reinstated veteran outfielder Gerardo Parra from the 10-day Injured List. Parra went on the IL with right knee inflammation back on September 5th.
“Parra has been complaining about his knee,” Martinez said at the time, noting that the 34-year-old outfielder had the knee surgically repaired this past winter.
“[He] says he’s got a little inflammation in his right knee. It’s the knee he had surgery on, so I talked to Parra and just told him, ‘Hey, why don’t we just give this thing some rest and see how you feel in 10 days or so,’ so he agreed. He said he couldn’t stay on his legs very good hitting. So he’s going to give it some rest and then we’ll see how he feels when he comes back.”
When Rogers told the Nats’ skipper he was feeling something in his leg after last night’s start, the club made the decision to bring Parra back for the final two games.
“Josh came in today, I talked to him for a while, and he said his hamstring was barking,” the manager explained. “So I said — well, I talked to Parra to see how he felt instead of trying to get somebody up here, we just decided to just put Josh on the IL and give Parra a chance to maybe get an at-bat or something like that and get him back out there and this way he finishes the season on the playing field.”
As for what Parra had been doing for the past few weeks before returning?
“He’s been working out diligently to get his knee back in shape, he’s taking some swings, he’s taken a lot of swings. He actually did a lot of biking, a lot of running. [Executive Director, Medical Services], Harvey [Sherman] has really put him through the gamut, because he wanted to make sure that he left here — and he said he felt really good a few days ago, and I said, ‘How have you been hitting?’ He said, ‘I’m hitting fine. I don’t feel much.’ But I talked to him today, and he was excited about getting an opportunity to come back and maybe get an at-bat or two and see how he feels just running around.”
“I’m excited about it,” Martinez added, of the possibility of the 2019 catalyst getting another opportunity to take the field in D.C.
“If we get an opportunity to get him in there it will be great, but like I said it gives him an opportunity to finish the season on the field instead of on the IL.”
Keibert and Josiah:
Catcher Keibert Ruiz and starter Josiah Gray both came over from LA in the deadline deal that sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers on July 30th, and they’ve been in the majors in D.C. together since Ruiz got called up back at the end of August, and they’d worked four starts with one another over that stretch, with Gray posting an 8.69 ERA, 16 walks, 17 Ks, and a .233/.374/.466 line against in 19 2⁄3 IP in those outings. So, the numbers aren’t great, but Gray said at one point last month that they didn’t much work together while in LA’s system this season because he was dealing with an injury, so they had to get back on the same page. How have they done? And what does their manager see for the duo in the future?
“I think they’re going to be really, really good together, I really do,” Martinez said before he sent Gray out against the Red Sox with Ruiz behind the plate on Saturday afternoon.
“And slowly but surely they have gotten better. You know, specifically along innings-wise, there’s some innings that things got away from them, but they work good together.”
He also talked about the work Ruiz, in particular, has done since he came up, working with former big league backstop Henry Blanco to refine his skills and prepare for a future in D.C. in which he’s expected to be the No. 1 catcher.
“I’ve been watching Keibert work diligently with Henry and working on different things,” the Nats’ skipper said, “... and he’s gotten actually really better, like we talked yesterday about blocking that ball, throwing that guy out in a big moment, it was huge, and I saw the way he works with pitchers, the communication that he has with pitchers, he’s been good, and I know him and Josiah have really been working on the communication, in-game communication, they talk to each other, they sit next to each other, Keibert goes down in the tunnels here at home, and when he’s sitting down I hear them talk about how they want to attack a certain hitter, what they did with previous hitters whether a guy got a hit and what happened in that situation, so it’s been fun watching those guys work together and communicating.
“That’s the big key for a catcher, is being able to communicate with each individual pitcher and getting them to stay honed in on what he needs to do.”
Gray gave up one run on a solo home run in six innings of work on Saturday, in what ended up a 5-3 loss for the Nationals, but the Nats’ skipper said he liked his starter was able to do in a charged, playoff-like atmosphere going against a team in the postseason race in front of around 40,000 fans.
“It was huge, and like I said, he pitched about as good as I’ve seen him pitch tonight, and that was awesome to see, against a good team that’s in the playoff hunt, and he held his own and did really well. So, I’m very excited to have him and get him going again here in the spring and see what he can do in a full season, but you saw what he could do in a big moment, and he did well.”