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Washington Nationals’ Starlin Castro leaves game with cramp in leg; after starting at 3rd

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The experiment at third base went well for Starlin Castro, but a cramp in his leg ended his day on Tuesday...

MLB: Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

Davey Martinez didn’t want anyone to read too much into his decision to start Starlin Castro at third base on Tuesday, a few days after he’d told reporters wondering about the struggles Carter Kieboom is experiencing again this spring, that neither Castro or the 20-year-old Luis García were taking grounders or doing work at the hot corner.

“It doesn’t mean much. As you know, Carter — he’s got to compete, but I want to make sure we cover all our bases, that we get [Castro] over there and see what that looks like,” he said of Castro now starting his first game at third.

“This doesn’t mean anything,” Martinez reiterated at another point. “Like I said, we just want to see what this looks like right now.

“Carter is going to get an opportunity to play third base, so we’ll see how it looks like, and like I said, this is the last week. We got to hone in on some things. No decisions have been made yet, but we want to make sure that we take the 26 best guys that we could possibly take.”

Kieboom, who struggled at the plate in a short stint in the majors in 2019, and again in 2020’s 60-game campaign, started the day Tuesday 6 for 35 (.171/.216/.286), with two doubles, a triple, two walks, and 11 Ks in 13 games.

Castro was 10 for 33 (.333/.375/.567) with two doubles, a triple, a home run, two walks, and five Ks in 12 games this spring before Tuesday.

If they are worried about Kieboom, starting Castro at third base, and García at second base, where he played last season when Castro was injured, seems like an option, and that’s the way they were lined up on Tuesday, though García (.138/.286/.172 before a two-hit game on Tuesday), hasn’t really been tearing it up this spring either.

Castro tweaked something in his leg going first-to-third in the top of the seventh inning, however, so after the game, Martinez was just happy it didn’t look like it was serious.

“First and foremost I’m glad he’s okay,” the manager said. “He’s going to be day-to-day, but I just talked to the trainers and he said he felt good. He had good strength in his leg, so I’m happy that this may not be long, so we’ll see how he feels tomorrow, but he did well. He did really well. He looked very comfortable over there. He had some tough plays earlier and he made them with no issue, so he looked really good.”

“I just feel like a little cramp,” Castro said.

“I don’t think it’s nothing. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow, and then I haven’t had hamstring issues before. I don’t think it’s bad.”

Castro looked comfortable at third, making one impressive backhand stab and throw to first, and he said he worked there this winter, and is ready to do whatever he’s asked.

“I feel pretty good. I’ve been working there this offseason, and last year with the Marlins I just played [45] games over there. I kind of like it.

“I’ve been working with [bench coach Tim Bogar], I started [taking] ground balls. I’m ready if I have to play there.”

His manager said he didn’t think Castro would need much time to get used to third, though nothing is settled as far as who’ll start the season there.

“He’s done it before,” Martinez said, “... and I know he takes a lot of ground balls in different positions throughout the winter, that’s just how he gets himself ready.”

“With the Marlins last year I played third at the end of the season,” Castro said, “and it’s something that I’ve working on to be ready if Davey needs me at third or needs me at second.”