García’s Growing Up:
Davey Martinez talked after second baseman Luis García went 2 for 5 with a double, homer, and a walk in Wednesday’s 7-5 win over the Marlins in Miami, about the progress that the 21-year-old infielder has made this season, since getting an opportunity to play every day with the big league club following the Washington Nationals’ sell-off at the trade deadline in late July.
“Yeah, he’s starting to have better at-bats,” Martinez told reporters. “Like I’ve said, when he gets the ball in the strike zone, and specifically up, he has good swings on them, and that’s something that we’re going to keep harping on with him for the next 10 days or whatever. We want him to get the ball up, in the strike zone, and when he does that, he hits the ball hard, but he’s playing well.”
And the fourth-year skipper likes what he’s seen from García in the field.
“He’s even playing a lot better at second base as well,” the manager added. “He’s moving his feet a lot better, so we’re going to continue to work with him for the next week and a half, and this offseason, I’m going to talk to him about what his plans are, whether he goes to play winter ball or not, but we want him to get better and come to Spring Training ready to go.”
García’s two-hit game on Wednesday, was his third straight two-hit game, and it left him at .286/.304/.532, eight doubles, and three homers over 21 games and 79 plate appearances during the month of September.
Martinez moved García up to the fifth spot in the order for last night’s series opener with the Cincinnati Reds.
“Yeah, obviously he’s swinging the bat a lot better,” Martinez said when asked about moving García up.
“I wanted to push him up against right-handed pitching and see how he reacts to it, but you know, once again, I’ll have a conversation with him about, ‘Hey, the biggest thing is staying in the strike zone.’
“‘You’re hitting balls hard when they’re in the strike zone, so stay in the strike zone and try to go up there and if you don’t get good pitches to hit, take your walks.’
“So we’ll see how he reacts to it, but I’m looking forward to him, and watching him up there, and hopefully we get some guys on base for him, and see if he can drive in some runs.”
The Nationals did get guys on base in front of García, in what ended up a 3-2 win, but he went 0 for 4 with a K and six left on base in the series opener in Cincinnati.
Jhon Romero - J-H-O-N [DING!]:
Acquired from the Chicago Cubs in the July 31, 2018 trade that sent Brandon Kintzler to the Windy City, Jhon Romero got the call up to the majors for the first time on Thursday, after a total of six seasons in the minors, three with the Nationals.
Before he got the call, the 26-year-old righty put up a combined 2.62 ERA in 38 games and 55 IP between Double-A Harrisburg (2.83 ERA in 47 2⁄3 IP) and Triple-A Rochester (1.23 ERA over 7 1⁄3 IP), with 11 walks and 69 Ks overall on the year.
“He attacks the strike zone,” Martinez said of the pitcher he knew from his time as the bench coach in Chicago. “He was with the Cubs, so I’ve known him when he was with the Cubs, but he’s a guy that attacks the strike zone, elevates his fastball, but the good thing is that he attacks the strike zone, he’s a strike thrower. He’s not afraid to throw his fastball, he’s got a good slider, good curveball. He had a good year, so we wanted to give him an opportunity to come up here, and I want to see him in person.”
Though he knew Romero from the Cubbies’ organization, Martinez said he didn’t have too much input when the Nationals traded for the pitcher.
“I knew about him, they asked me about him, and I said, ‘Look, from what I know, he’s feisty, but he throws strikes, and he’s always around the zone. That’s something that I always liked, a guy that’s not afraid to throw his fastball for strikes, and pound the zone.
“Like I said, this year he pitched really, really well, and I talked to him and I congratulated him, he worked hard to get up here, get back here, and I told him, I said, ‘Look, I want to see you pitch, and I don’t want you to change a thing. Just go out there and attack the strike zone and be aggressive.”
Romero is another new face in D.C., and as the manager said, there’s no better time to get a look at the young players the Nationals have been bringing up since the trade deadline after kicking off their reboot.
“For me, it’s just getting guys here and getting to know them, like I said, once again with Romero,” Martinez told reporters, “and giving them an opportunity. Right now, we’re giving a lot of guys an opportunity. So I get them up here and I tell them, ‘Hey, go out there and knock the door down, and I want to see you compete.’ Obviously, next year we’re probably going to have a lot of moving parts, but I want to give these guys that are here an opportunity to show us what they can do and to see if they can help us next year in some capacity.”
Jakson Reetz DFA - Catching Corps + More:
In addition to the move to bring Romero up, the Nationals placed Yadiel Hernández on the Paternity List (for the birth of the Hernández family’s second child) and designated catcher Jakson Reetz, the 25-year-old, 2014 3rd Round pick, for assignment, clearing a spot on the 40-Man roster for the reliever.
Hernández, of course, will likely be back after a few days, and Martinez said he hopes that Reetz, who made his MLB debut earlier this season, will return to the organization.
“Hopefully he sticks around, but continues to get better,” Martinez said. “We saw him briefly here for a couple games. One thing about Jakson, is that he’s going to give you everything he has, but he’s got to get better catching. He does a great job of handling the pitching staff, as we all know, but he’s a go-getter, so I’m hoping that he comes back because like I said, even though we take him off the roster doesn’t mean we give up on him, you know, and if he comes back, you can’t have enough catchers, you really can’t. They’re hard to come by.
“So, but we think he still has potential to reach his peak, and will hopefully one day get back up here if we need him.”
With Tres Barrera at Triple-A, and Riley Adams and Keibert Ruiz in the majors, after both of them were acquired at the trade deadline, Martinez said the club has some options for the 2022 catching corps.
“Right now, we’re going to evaluate everything ... at the end of the year,” he said when he was asked if catching would be an area they targeted this winter.
“Right now, the two young guys that we got up here are getting better. We got another kid in a trade from Oakland [Drew Millas], and he has done well since he’s been here, so we feel like we picked up three really good young catchers, guys that can help us now and guys that can help us in the future. But these guys are going to get a shot to play, as you can see, but at the end of the year we’re going to sit down as a group and reevaluate where we’re at, and try to get better for 2022.
“That’s the goal, get back to where I feel like this is a championship team, and we want to get back there.”