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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Luis García & Carter Kieboom; Patrick Corbin in new role; Stephen Strasburg

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability on Thursday afternoon...

Luis and Carter: BFFs

Luis García and Carter Kieboom hit back-to-back jacks in Wednesday night’s game, taking Phillies’ righty Chase Anderson deep for each of the young infielder’s 2nd HR of 2021, and García talked after the game (and after he hit a second home run later in the loss) about a friendship with the Nationals’ 23-year-old, 2016 1st Round pick, that goes back to the time they spent together on their way up Washington’s organizational ladder.

“Our relationship is — first of all he’s a very exciting and happy player, and as a teammate he’s always been that way,” the 21-year-old said, “... and I almost consider him my brother, and having that relationship, down and come up, we’ve always talked about if we both get the chance to play in Triple-A and come up to the big leagues together, let’s embrace it and we’ve been having a lot of fun up here, we motivate each other, and I feel like we’re a family, and we learn from each other and feed off and motivate one another.”

García, Kieboom, Victor Robles, Juan Soto, Josiah Gray, Mason Thompson, Tres Barrera, and Riley Adams are all part of a youth movement, following the Nationals’ fire sale at the trade deadline, and it’s something that García said is exciting.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

“It’s very exciting and motivating, I think I’m trying to get and learn from each individual,” he told reporters. “Every day, you can pick up something from everybody and I think we’re all motivated, so we’re learning from each other, and another thing with the veteran guys that we do have here, you pick something from them. They bring a lot of experience, and a lot to the game, and you learn something from them as well, so yeah, I feel very motivated.”

Nationals’ manager, Davey Martinez, talked before Thursday afternoon’s series finale with the Phillies in D.C. about seeing García and Kieboom enjoying themselves and starting to produce at the major league level together.

“They’re pretty close, they’ve been together for some time,” he said. “So they understand each other. It’s fun to watch those guys go out there and play and come up together.

“They’re doing well. They’re starting to swing the bat the way we thought they could.

“They’re having fun. The biggest thing — I’m starting to see Carter smile a lot more, Luis is always kind of smiling, but he’s having fun.

“I just want to see them continue to progress, and to have fun out there, and to actually —it’s a lot easier when you hit the ball and they start falling in for you, that you can do those things, so hopefully they continue to get their hits and help us win games.”

“We have an amazing relationship,” Kieboom said after Thursday afternoon’s loss.

“We talked about it a lot when we were in Rochester, and how you know our opportunity is going to be there, and we were just super-excited to be able to do this together. We talked about hitting a home run yesterday back-to-back when we realized we were hitting back-to-back there, so it was kind of funny that we did it that very first at bat. So, no, Luis is great, I love him as a teammate and a friend. So, he’s been tremendous as well. It’s been very fun for us to be able to come up here and kind of do this thing together.”

Corbin = Mentor?:

Patrick Corbin talked after his start this week about returning to the clubhouse following the Nationals’ trade deadline sell-off to find a lot of friends from his first two and a half seasons in D.C. were gone.

“It’s definitely strange coming here now,” Corbin explained, “... seeing a lot of really close friends that I’ve developed relationships with out of here. But still got to come to the field every day and try to prepare, and I think just personally being available if some of these guys got some questions.”

With a lot of departures after the Nationals traded seven expiring contracts (Max Scherzer, Brad Hand, Yan Gomes, Daniel Hudson, Kyle Schwarber, Josh Harrison, and Jon Lester + a year-plus of Trea Turner), a number of new faces, including some of the players acquired in those deals are in the clubhouse now, and as a de facto leader in D.C. now, Corbin said he wants to do what he can to make the transition easier for his new teammates and the call-ups who are now in Washington.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

“I know how it was to be traded before, and some of these new guys coming in, could be tough for them, so you just try to be available, try to help them out the best you can and just excited for some of these guys to come in, have opportunities, and this is a great opportunity for a lot of these young guys to go out there and show that they deserve to be at this level, and I think that’s the one thing that excites me.”

Davey Martinez said he’s seen Corbin and other veterans that are still with the Nationals reaching out to the new guys, and it’s an important part of the reboot the organization’s embarked upon.

“Like I’ve always said, those guys are of big importance, especially where we’re at right now,” Martinez told reporters.

“They’ve all been good. Patrick is another guy that’s been around, he understands the ups and downs of pitching, and he’s always available to talk. He’s been grabbing guys, talking to guys. [Paolo] Espino has been doing the same thing. Even though you could say that he’s just now getting to the big leagues, he has some experience, so he’s been talking to a lot of the Latin players, and pitchers as well, so they’ve all been helping out.”

Injury Updates: Stephen Strasburg; Kyle McGowin; Coaches

Davey Martinez told reporters on Wednesday that he’d seen but hadn’t spoken to Stephen Strasburg after the 32-year-old starter returned to Nationals Park following season-ending surgery for neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome.

“[Strasburg] was in here today,” Martinez said. “He’s rehabbing. I haven’t talked to him yet.

“We’ll go in there some time after batting practice and see how he’s doing. He looks good though.

“I know he’s talked to some people and I’ve heard through rumors that he feels pretty good.”

So did he have a chance, in the intervening 24 hours before another Zoom call with the D.C. press corps on Thursday to talk to the 2019 World Series MVP? He did.

“He feels fine,” Martinez said before Thursday’s game. “He’s itching now to start his rehab, and get ready again, and hopefully we get him on the mound as soon as possible.”

Martinez also offered an update on Kyle McGowin, who landed on the IL back on July 21st with right biceps tendinitis after making 22 appearances out of the bullpen and posting a 4.56 ERA, a 4.57 FIP, 12 walks, and 29 Ks in 25 23 IP. McGowin was spotted throwing in the Nationals’ bullpen before the finale with the Phillies.

“He threw 24 pitches,” Martinez said. “He threw the ball well, he said he feels good. So we’ll see how he feels after coming out of this today, but he may be ready to go out for a rehab assignment here shortly.”

There was one other update...

When Martinez was asked on Wednesday afternoon about the members of the coaching staff who got caught up in the latest COVID outbreak, he said there was no new news at that point.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

“Not yet,” he said. “Nothing. I’m still waiting to hear from the CDC.”

“Obviously you know I miss those guys, we’re pretty close,” Martinez added.

“But until they’re eligible to come back, you know, and like I said before, Sam [Narron] and Mikey [Tejera], [Gary] Thurman, they’re all doing a good job. Henry [Blanco] is doing a great job over at third base, and we all seem to be getting along just fine, so it’s been good.”

If you’re asking yourself, who, who, who, and who, well you should know Henry Blanco, the bullpen coach, who’s been helping out at third base. As for the rest of them? MASN’s Mark Zuckerman helped out with that, noting the other day who’s up in the majors now and what their previous roles were in the organization:

“Double-A Harrisburg pitching coach Sam Narron, outfield and baserunning coordinator Gary Thurman, Triple-A hitting coach Brian Daubach and Gulf Coast League pitching coach Michael Tejera. Henry Blanco, normally the Nationals’ bullpen coach, has taken over as third base coach.”

On Thursday, however, Martinez and the Nationals apparently heard back from the CDC, as he said when asked if he had any update.

“We do actually, they’ll be cleared on Sunday, so they’ll fly out Sunday or train Sunday night and meet us in NY on Monday.”