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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Carter Kieboom; Keibert Ruiz; + more...

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

Kieboom’s Forearm MRI Clean:

Carter Kieboom was originally in the Washington Nationals’ lineup for the second game of four with the Cincinnati Reds in Great American Ball Park on Friday night, but the recently-turned 24-year-old infielder was a late scratch, with Jordy Mercer taking over for him at the hot corner.

Kieboom’s scratch came after manager Davey Martinez’s pregame Zoom call with reporters, so there wasn’t any news on the 2016 1st Round pick until after what ended up an 8-7 loss to the Reds in extras.

“He got — his forearm — do you guys remember when he got hit in Miami,” Martinez asked reporters, “on his forearm, he said it started acting up on him.”

Washington Nationals v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Kieboom got hit by Marlins’ reliever Zach Pop in fifth inning of the first game of the three-game series in Miami, and he played in the finale with the Fish, and in the series opener in Cincinnati, before it “started acting up,” as his manager put it.

“So he’s getting an MRI tomorrow morning,” Martinez said late on Friday night.

“I took him out for precautionary measures, and he’s going to get an MRI and we’ll see what’s going on, so I’ll let you guys know more tomorrow.”

Before the third of four with the Reds on Saturday, the fourth-year skipper provided an update.

“Everything came back negative,” Martinez said. “He’s going to go work out today, we’ll see how he feels, but he’s available to come off the bench today.”

Keibert Starts Swinging It:

Keibert Ruiz connected for his first home run with the Nationals on Friday night, and went 3 for 5 overall, which was his fourth three-hit game in the last seven, and fifth multi-hit game over that stretch, as the 23-year-old catcher has gotten more comfortable at the plate in the last week-plus after a slow start following his call-up from Triple-A at the end of August.

Ruiz’s three-hit game on Friday left him 15 for 30 (.500/.516/.667) in the seven-game stretch, over which he had two doubles and the home run, and the catcher talked afterwards about struggling when he first came up, offering some insight into what he thought the issue was as he went 4 for 33 (.121/.194/.152) in the first 10 games and eight starts, after the Nationals brought him back to the majors following a stint in Triple-A once they’d acquired him from the LA Dodgers at the trade deadline on July 30th.

Washington Nationals v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

“I think I’m not trying to do too much,” Ruiz said of his success at the plate in the seven-game stretch.

“Before I was jumping a little bit and swinging at everything,” he explained.

“Right now I’m just trying to focus, and swing at my pitch, until I get to two strikes. I mean, that’s what I can control, and I’m just going to keep focused on that, keep working on that and get better every day.”

His manager, Davey Martinez, said he wasn’t surprised to see that degree of self-awareness from the young backstop.

“Yeah, he’s very — ... he’s a student of the game, he wants to learn every day,” Martinez said, “... he understands himself really well for a young kid, he knows what he needs to do to be right, and he works on it. It doesn’t surprise me that he said that, it’s something that we talked about, and a lot of it had to do with slowing his feet down a little bit, and he did it, and you see the results. He’s swinging the bat really well, and he’s staying inside the baseball, he’s not trying to do too much, something that we talked to him about, just trying to stay in the middle of the field, and he’s done that well.”

García’s Up/Down Night:

Luis García was 0 for 4 at the plate through eight on Friday night, before he came up with two out and the bases loaded against Reds’ reliever Mychal Givens in the top of the ninth, and hit a two-run, opposite field single through the left side that tied things up at 7-7 in an 8-7 loss in the end.

García got another bases-loaded opportunity in the top of the 10th, but grounded out to end the inning, then had the game-winning hit go off his glove at second base.

It was a hard-hit ball, and a difficult play, made more challenging by his positioning with the free runner on to start the inning in extras.

“It was particularly difficult,” he said, “especially since I was trying to cover the runner and keep him close to second base, and as I took my two shuffles to my left, I looked at the hitter, and the ball was hit sharply, and it was hit to my left side, and I just tried to put a glove on it and stop it, and unfortunately it just got a little bit of the glove, and it came off, and I wasn’t able to make the play.”

MLB: Washington Nationals at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

García experienced highs and lows in a couple innings, but it’s all about learning on the job for the young infielder, who said he just wanted to finish out this season strong over the last week of the 2021 campaign. His focus?

“Focus on staying back on my back — on my back side, on my left leg,” García explained, “... staying back and making sure every at-bat I zone in and focus and pick out my pitch, the pitch I’m looking for, have good at-bats, and just finish strong.”

Getting to experience it all, in his second major league season, his manager said, will only help him get used to the successes and failures he’ll experience throughout his career.

“It’s awesome, and like I said, he’s learning,” Martinez said on Saturday afternoon. “The one big thing I talked to Luis about today was where he got that hit. He had two strikes on him, and I said, ‘Where did you hit that ball?’ And he said, ‘I stayed on the ball and hit the ball the other way.’ I said, ‘Perfect. And that’s what we’re wanting you to try to do.’ Use the whole field. Like I told you before, he gets pull happy, a lot, and I said, ‘Hey, you’re really good at just staying up the middle of the field and hitting the ball the other way,’ and it was great to see him stay on the ball and hit the ball past the shortstop like that.”