Alcides Escobar fouled a pitch off his left knee in Monday’s series opener with Philadelphia’s Phillies in Nationals Park, and Washington’s 34-year-old infielder had to be helped off, but an X-ray came back negative as skipper Davey Martinez told reporters after the club’s 7-4 loss.
“He’s good,” the manager said. “He got X-rays. He’s got a contusion on his inside of his left knee. He’s going to be day-to-day.
“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow, but everything came back negative.”
Escobar, in 44 games and 199 plate appearances since he was acquired from Kansas City for cash in early July, finished the night with a .280/.335/.363 line, 10 doubles, one triple, and a home run for the Nationals, since he joined the team, but he wasn’t able to answer the bell in the 2nd of 3 with the Phillies on Tuesday night.
Martinez was holding out hope and holding back on announcing his lineup when he held his daily Zoom call with reporters on Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re waiting right now,” he said. “Haven’t posted the lineup up. He’s getting treatment.
“He’s moving around okay, so he wants to move around and see how he feels, so we’re waiting to put out a lineup.”
Escobar wasn’t able to go in the end.
Luis García’s Future Spot — Throwing Issues?:
Luis García shifted over to short in Monday’s game, with Adrián Sanchez playing second, and that’s how Martinez lined his defense up again without Escobar available on Tuesday.
Martinez has talked at times about where García will play going forward, whether it’s over at short, or at second, where he’s spent most of his time in the majors, and he shared his own thoughts on the infielder’s future.
“He came up as a shortstop,” the manager noted. “My biggest thing — he moves around pretty good over there — my biggest thing with him is his throwing from shortstop. He’s got a strong enough arm, obviously, but he gets a little erratic.
“His arm angle changes periodically. So it’s something that we got to work on with him over there, and to stay in his legs a little bit better. He throws the ball and he never finishes, never goes towards his target where he’s throwing. He doesn’t use his legs, so [bench and infield coach Tim Bogar] is back and he’s got all this stuff written down, he’s been watching games, so he’s looking forward to working with all these guys.”
Bogar underwent back surgery which kept him away from the team for a while, but did not, apparently, keep him from taking notes on what he saw while watching from home.
“The biggest issue with Luis in both second and at short, is his feet,” Martinez continued, “... and continuing to move his feet. His feet got to work, and like I said, it’s a process that we’ve talked to him about, we’re going to continue to work with him, but he’s got to continue to use his feet, and when he does that he’s really good. And he understands it, and it’s just a habit, and we’ve got to break him out of that habit, and we got to get him to use his feet all the time.”
Before Monday’s game, the Nats optioned Tres Barrera to Triple-A with top prospect Keibert Ruiz up and expected to play most of the time down the stretch, and Riley Adams expected to get a couple starts a week as the backup backstop in the nation’s capital.
Ruiz, who had a .308/.365/.577 line with six doubles, five homers, six walks, and five Ks over 20 games with the Nats’ top minor league affiliate, the Triple-A East’s Rochester Red Wings, after the trade from the LA Dodgers at the deadline last month, had a .310/.377/.616 line, 24 doubles, and a total of 21 home runs, 30 walks, and 33 Ks in 72 games played in the minors this season before the Nationals brought him up.
Ruiz collected his first hit with the Nationals in the final of his four plate appearances, on a single to short center field.
“Glad he got that first hit out of the way,” Martinez said after Keibert’s Nationals debut. “But he handled himself well. He blocked some balls, blocked some balls, made some nice plays blocking balls out there.
“He’ll get another opportunity tomorrow, he’ll be in there tomorrow. But I’m glad he’s got that first one out of the way, it seems like young guys like that when they come to a new team or when they’re in the big leagues — whatever the case could be, it’s a different feeling, nerves are a little bit — and once you get that first hit, you kind of settle in a little bit and you relax a little bit better, so I’m expecting him to come out tomorrow and compete.”
And how will he divide the catching duties over the final month-plus of the 2021 season?
“We’ll ... I want Keibert to catch a couple days, three or four days in a row and then we’ll go from there,” Martinez said.
“I kind of want him to get accustomed to everything and get him out there and get him some at bats, 10-12 at bats in a row and see how he feels. As you know we have some day games coming up as well, so he’ll play either/or, the night game or the day game so we’ll just adjust accordingly, but I’ll start looking at the matchups too for both Riley and him.
“Even though I know that Keibert is a switch hitter, there’s some matchups that I want to see Riley play because we’ve got to continue his progress, and we’ll let him play as well.”
“As we go forward we’ll see how things work out, but they’re both going to get some playing time.”
The manager said he did follow up with Keibert as well, just to check in after his first game with his new team.
“I just talked to him for a brief minute,” he said. “He’s already focused on [Tuesday’s starter Patrick] Corbin. I told him, I said, ‘As you know he throws a lot of sliders. A lot of balls in the dirt. You got to block a lot of balls,’ and I wanted to test him, see what — he says, ‘Yeah, I watched a lot of video on how [Corbin] pitched, so, yeah, I’m aware that I’m going to have to block some balls tonight.’ And like I said, he has been really good. In the conversations we’ve had with him he’s good. He wants to learn as much as he can, he’s been asking a lot of questions, which is kind of nice, so like I said, I’m looking forward to him catching today.”