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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Luis García; returning to Tampa + more...

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

When Will Fedde Be Ready?:

Erick Fedde, who hasn’t started in the majors since testing positive for COVID-19 last month, made a rehab start over the weekend as he works his way back, and the right-hander is with the team in Tampa Bay now, spotted by Washington Post writer Jesse Dougherty before the start of the series opener with the Rays on Tuesday.

Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez confirmed that Fedde was back with the team.

”Fedde is back, he’s going to throw a bullpen and then we’ll see how it goes,” Martinez said.

Washington Nationals v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

“We haven’t decided what we want to do yet. I want to see him go through a bullpen and go through his routine the next few days.”

When he does return, Martinez said, he’ll be back in Washington’s rotation.

“If he continues to pitch the way he pitched his last few outings before he went on the COVID-IL, yeah, absolutely, I mean he’s done well,”

“He’s matured a lot, like I said. He’s worked with [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey on his arm angle, and he’s throwing the ball really consistently, so right now our needs are for him to start again for us.

“We’re going to continue to let him start and we’ll see how things fare for him in these next few weeks.”

Luis García Tearing S—tuff Up At Triple-A:

Nationals’ prospect Luis García, who turned 21 on May 16th, was named the Triple-A East Player of the Week for May 31-June 6 after he was 11 for 27 (.407/.484/.778) with a double, three home runs, nine RBIs, and seven runs scored in six games over that stretch, which gave him a .284/.349/.526 line on the year with the Nationals’ top minor league affiliate.

What is Davey Martinez hearing from the Triple-A staff about García’s progress at Triple-A, after he debuted in the majors for the Nationals in 2020’s 60-game COVID campaign? He has put up big numbers, and is really hot as of late, apparently.

“I’m hearing the same thing,” Martinez said.

“He’s doing really well, so that’s great to see. He’s one of the guys that’s going to be a big part of our future, so we wanted him to get off to a quick start and he’s doing that.

“So he’s playing really well, we’ll keep an eye on him for the future, but I hope he continues to swing the bat the way he’s swinging.”

What do the Nationals want to see before they think of bringing García back up to the big leagues?

“We just want him to continue to do what he’s doing and play consistent baseball,” Martinez said, “... not only his hitting portion, but his defense as well, and just play the game the right way, everything. We want these guys to come up here better baserunners, situational hitting, and all that stuff, defense, we talked to him a lot about consistent defense, making the routine plays every day, getting ready every pitch, that was a big thing for him, and he’s doing well, he’s doing a lot better.”

Hard To IgKnorr [ed. note - “That’s it. You’re fired.”]:

Once Davey Martinez signed his multi-year extension with the Nats last year, he made a few changes to his staff, bringing on both pitching coach Jim Hickey and first base coach Randy Knorr, both of whom he had history with over the years.

“For me, I had an opportunity to get a few guys that I’ve had long relationships with. Guys that I trust. Jim Hickey, Randy Knorr.

“Both guys, I feel like they’re like me, they’re baseball rats. They love the game. They’re very intuitive. I worked with Hickey in Tampa. He’s amazing. He knows a lot about the game. Not just about pitching, but about the game itself. Same thing with Randy. Randy has been in this organization for a long time. I’ve known him for a long time. He was the bench coach here at one point. So he’s very knowledgeable.”

MLB: Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Martinez said that both have worked out well over the first two-plus months of 2021.

Talking about Knorr, the fourth-year skipper said, “He’s been awesome.”

“Randy understands the game, he knows the game. A former catcher, so I talk to him about a lot of different things, pitching strategies, you name it, what he looks for in certain situations hitting-wise. He’s a good man to have. As you know he’s managed in Triple-A, he’s done a lot of different things.

“Known Randy for quite some time. We were neighbors for a lot of years and so we always talk baseball quite a bit, so love having him on the staff.”

The two former major leaguers hit and threw together, played golf, and went fishing over the years, and Martinez said he’s had a measurable effect on the Nationals’ control of the running game this year.

“He’s been good. He’s been working with our pitchers on getting a little quicker. As you know we’ve thrown out quite a bit of guys this year with Yan Gomes and Alex [Avila], but that all pertains about him being on the pitchers about being quicker, being aware of the runners, which guys can run from first base and from second base, so we’ve been really good with that and a lot of it has to do with Randy.”

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

And how about Hickey?

“He’s been — the same old Jim Hickey, you know that,” Martinez told the Tampa-based writer who asked about Hickey, who was the pitching coach for the Rays from 2006-17.

“He’s been great. I love having him here. He’s been tremendous. Also, he knows everybody in the world here. I think he was here longer than me, not including being a player, but he was excited to come back, he still makes his home here, so he was excited to be back.”

Returning to Tampa Bay is still special for Martinez too, after he played for the Rays between 1998-2000, then served as the bench coach under Joe Maddon from 2007-14.

“Absolutely,” he said. “As you know I made this my home for many, many years. It’s always good to see familiar faces and talk to people that you know for many, many years.”