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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Starlin Castro; Luis García & Stephen Strasburg...

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s daily media availability...


The last line of Baseball-Reference’s explanation of MLB’s Restricted List notes that while it can be used for, “players who are out of organized baseball but are not free agents,” it is also, “... used to place a player who is unavailable to play for non-baseball reasons, such as personal issues or trouble with the law.”

Starlin Castro, who was placed on the Restricted List in advance of the series finale with the Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday, was put on it so he could deal with a family matter apparently.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Washington Nationals Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

“He has some family matters that he needs to attend to,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters in his pregame Zoom call on Wednesday afternoon.

“And we talked last night and I just want him to go and handle those matters. I can’t get into specifics. One thing for sure, Starlin is good, he just needs to take care of some stuff.”

“I 100% support him,” the fourth-year manager added, “... and we all support him here at the Nationals, so hopefully he can resume and get back to us as soon as possible.”

Castro, 31, has hit .239 so far in 2021, in the second year of a two-year deal with the club, with 11 doubles, two home runs, 23 RBIs, 17 walks, and 14 runs scored in 63 games, over which he’s been worth -0.4 fWAR.

Martinez was asked if there’s any timeframe for the infielder’s return to the team.

“No,” he said.

“Like I said when I spoke to him — I’m a real big believer in family, and he needs to take care of the issues that he has. So, when he comes back we’ll welcome him with open arms, but until then I want him to focus on his family.”

Luis García Back Again, Going To Play:

Luis García got called back up with Castro on the Restricted List, and Davey Martinez laid out his plans for covering third base while the current hot corner holder downer is away.

“[Jordy] Mercer [did] well yesterday,” Martinez said after penciling the veteran infielder in as his third baseman again on Wednesday. “He’s getting a chance to play today. As you know, Luis is here, so we can possibly — Josh [Harrison] will take some ground balls there as well, put Josh over there, and have Luis play some second base against right-handed pitching, and Mercer will play third base and Josh will play second against right-handed pitching.”

At Triple-A Rochester, García, 21, has put up a .270/.336/.478 line, with three doubles and seven home runs in 28 games and 128 plate appearances, and in 11 games so far in June, the infielder has posted a .319/.396/.553 line as he’s taken off offensively.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

García was recently named the Triple-A East Player of the Week for the first week of June, after going, “11-for-27 (.407) with a double, three home runs, nine RBI(s), and seven runs in six games from May 31-June 6,” as the Nationals mentioned in their press release yesterday.

“He’s doing well,” Martinez said.

“He’s really swinging the bat well. He’s doing all the things that we asked him to do down there, so he gets an opportunity to come up here and help us win some games.”

And the manager’s thinking on how he’ll handle things defensively at second and third?

“[Harrison] is playing so well at second base,” he said. “I know that he plays everywhere else, but I like him at second base, and Jordy, like I said, Jordy is really good anywhere I put him in the infield. So, he adjusted well going over to third base, he takes ground balls every day over there along with shortstop, second, and first, so I think we’re in good shape when they’re both playing out there. With that being said, I want to give Luis, as long as he’s here, an opportunity to play as well, especially against right-handed pitching.”

Speaking of Right-Handed Pitching or Pitchers Really:

Stephen Strasburg, on the IL since June 2nd with a neck strain, was spotted throwing on the field in Nationals Park on Wednesday, which was apparently the first time he’s thrown, over two weeks after he landed on the Injured List, just two starts after a month-plus out dealing with inflammation in his right shoulder.

“That is the first time he’s thrown,” Martinez confirmed. “So it’s a great start for us. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. He threw light today, just played catch, and we’ll see how that goes tomorrow.”

As always, the manager noted that it’s important to see how players come out of throwing sessions the day after, so you know how they react to testing what they’re recovering from.

“I’ll [talk to him more] tomorrow after he threw to see if he felt anything, and to see what he felt, and to see what’s next for him,” Martinez said, but there is still no timetable for a return to the rotation.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

“There’s no timetable whatsoever,” Martinez clarified. “So like I said, when we get him back, we want him completely 100% healthy.”

The skipper said previously that Strasburg was headed to see another specialist as the club tries to figure out what’s been causing the issue, and he did make that trip. What did they say?

“It’s something where he just has to deal with it,” Martinez said. “I know we talked a lot about his mechanics possibly irritating that nerve. So it’s just something that we talked about with Stras. I know [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey has talked about it, he’s actually aware of it, so like I said, it’s a good first step, that he’s actually feeling good enough to start throwing, and then we’ll go from there.”

So will there be tinkering with Strasburg’s mechanics while he rehabs and tries to get back on the mound for the Nationals?

“It’s way too early right now,” for that talk, Martinez said. “So we’ll see — like I said, the good news it he felt good enough to throw today, and then we’ll take it from there.”