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Washington Nationals’ Luis García a core guy for future contending club in D.C.

Manager Davey Martinez and GM Mike Rizzo have talked in recent days about Luis García’s growth since he came up to the majors...

Washington Nationals v Texas Rangers Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Luis García started Wednesday night’s game with .342/.354/.481 line, five doubles, two home runs, one walk, 17 Ks, and nine runs scored in 20 games and 82 plate appearances since he got the call back up to the majors on June 1st. García, 22, had also hit safely in 15 of 20 games, and reached base safely in 16 of the 20, as the Nationals noted in their pregame notes for the second of two with the Orioles in Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

At short, the area of concern in his game for the Nationals as they talked development with the infielder at Triple-A for the first two months of the 2022 campaign, he started the night in OPACY with five errors in 20 games, one fielding and four throwing. So how does the GM in D.C. view his progress? Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies he thought García would improve defensively with reps at short in the majors.

Washington Nationals v Texas Rangers Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

“I think time at the position — at the big leagues, the speed of the major league game is — you can’t create that in Triple-A or in a workout, or even when you’re practicing before the game,” Rizzo explained. “The speed of the game and just the reps that it takes to be a good shortstop is what he needs, and he’s getting them, and he’s growing at the big league level, and he’s not the first shortstop in history to struggle defensively at the position the first year, and he won’t be the last. So it’s an extremely difficult position to play.

“It takes athleticism, range, arm strength, good hands, good feet, blah, blah, blah, down the line. I see improvements.

“[Coaches Gary] DiSarcina and [Tim] Bogar are woking with him on a daily basis, and he’s taking to the information, and he’s such a coachable kid and a loveable kid, that he gets it, he knows he has to improve.”

He’s fine on the offensive end right now.

And manager Davey Martinez moved him up to hit 5th in the lineup the last two games.

“He’s swinging the bat well, and we’re monitoring his swings and his approach, and I’m looking for someone to, one, to drive in some runs, and two, to actually get on base with some of those other guys as well,” Martinez explained before the series opener with the Orioles. “And he’s done that so far, so we’ll see how he does. It doesn’t mean that he’s gonna stay there.

“I might end up moving him back, but for today with the way this matches up, I kind of like him in that five hole.”

Washington Nationals v Texas Rangers Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

“Where he hits is to me is secondary to how he prepares, and how he attacks the hitters. And he’s doing a good job of that so far,” Rizzo told the Junkies.

“He’s been — since we signed him as an offensive-first player. His bat came way quicker than his defense. And we’re trying to catch up defensively. He can hit, he’s got bat speed and balance at the plate. He’s got plate coverage, and strike zone knowledge, and he’s got the special thing that those great hitters do at their hands. I call it — he’s got the flick at the end where the ball jumps off his bat, and I think that the league is starting to make an adjustment to him, so he’s going to have make an adjustment to the league, and I think we can, and we’re looking at a player who is going to be a core guy for us for long time.”

García went 1 for 4 with an RBI double which drove in one of two runs the Nationals scored in a 2-1 win over the Texas Rangers on the road in Arlington, TX.