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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Keibert Ruiz showing Juan Soto respect; Luis García being day-to-day + more

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability on Saturday in Nationals Park...

Soto Tribute:

Davey Martinez was moved by the tribute video the Washington Nationals played for Juan Soto in his first game back in the nation’s capital, following the trade deadline deal which sent the 23-year-old outfielder to the San Diego Padres.

Soto signed with the Nationals in 2015, debuted for the club in 2018, won the World Series with the team in 2019, but when it didn’t look like he planned on signing an extension with the Nats, GM Mike Rizzo and Co. in the front office decided they had to explore a potential trade and the Padres met the high bar the D.C. crew set for them even to consider a deal.

“I was feeling it inside then everything starts playing in your head, all the good times that we had together,” Martinez said of his reaction to the Soto tribute which played before an exhausting, 4-hour, 3-minute, 10-5 win for the outfielder’s new team, “... and obviously ‘19, winning the World Series, and just him being here, that big smile he has, and that kind of joy-ish, kid-ish little look that he gave you, I’ll never forget those moments.”

Another moment which stuck out for him was when 24-year-old catcher Keibert Ruiz took a quick walk out towards the mound before Soto’s first at-bat in his former home, giving fans in the nation’s capital a chance to express their feelings for the outfielder who grew up right in front of their eyes.

Martinez said Ruiz’s actions were unplanned (by the club at least), but just a matter of their young catcher understanding the big moment.

“To me that says a lot about Keibert and how he feels, and how he feels about those guys as well,” the fifth-year skipper explained, “... but he showed me something there, that’s a little bit of the maturity that we’re talking about with him, how he just understood that, hey, he’s going to give those guys their moment, and that was pretty cool.”

And, as noted, he didn’t have to be told. “He did that on his own, which, like I said, which was awesome,” Martinez said.

García Day-To-Day:

Luis García looked uncomfortable running to first in the sixth inning of Friday night’s game, and he left the lineup a couple innings later, with manager Davey Martinez telling reporters during his post-game press conference the 22-year-old shortstop tweaked his groin so they decided to get him treatment to see how he reacted, and an MRI to make sure it was not a significant issue.

“He got a little bit of a groin tightness, so we’re going to get him an MRI scheduled for the morning, see what’s going on,” Martinez said. “I thought it was his knee, but he said it was his groin, so I wanted to take him out and make sure that he’s okay.”

He thought it might be García’s knee because the infielder tweaked his knee during their series in Wrigley Field earlier this week, but this time it was a groin issue.

García wasn’t in the starting lineup for Saturday’s game.

“He’s got a little bit of a strain in his left groin. So he’s going to be day-to-day, which I want him to get treatment today,” Martinez explained. “Hopefully later on he’s available to pinch hit, so we’ll see how it goes.”

With García tweaking his knee, and now his groin, are the Nationals watching closely to see what newly-acquired shortstop C.J. Abrams is doing at Triple-A Rochester in case they need to bring him up to the majors?

“We know what he’s doing obviously every day,” Martinez said. “Like I said, we’ll see how this turns out [with García]. There’s always going to be discussions on if something does happen, who are we going to bring up? But right now ... [Ildemaro] Vargas is going to play [short], Lane [Thomas] is our backup second baseman. He’s done it before. He played the infield before. He always tells me, ‘Everybody forgets that I came up as an infielder.’ So he went out there to take some ground balls, and he can cover if we need him to.”

Martinez also noted he was keeping a close eye on Nelson Cruz, after the 42-year-old, 18-year veteran felt off during Friday night’s game.

“He said he felt dizzy. He got dizzy. And I don’t take chances when someone says they’re dizzy,” the manager explained.

“So we just took him out, and by the time he [got] home yesterday, he said he felt a lot better, he got some sleep, came in today, I told him, ‘Why don’t you move around and hit and stuff,’ so he did that and he said he felt good.”

Fedde Getting Ready:

Erick Fedde was placed on the 15-Day IL on July 31st, with right shoulder inflammation, but the 29-year-old right-hander threw on Friday and felt good afterwards, which his manager, Davey Martinez, said was a positive sign as he works his way back to the rotation.

“It went good,” Martinez told reporters before the series opener with the San Diego Padres in D.C. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow and then we’ll go from there. If he feels good, I’m going to talk to him, but I would imagine that he’s got to go out and do one rehab start and get up to about 75-80 pitches. He threw I think 47 [today].”

Seattle Mariners v Washington Nationals - Game Two Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

And he felt fine when he showed up at Nationals Park on Saturday.

“Fedde feels good. Our next thing is to get him to Rochester, and build him up and get him to throw about 75-80 pitches. So that will be Wednesday.

He had an update on another rehabbing starter as well.

“MacKenzie [Gore] threw again today, and he said he felt really good,” Martinez said of the left-hander acquired from the Padres in the Juan Soto/Josh Bell trade.

“For him it will just be progression. He threw 75 feet, 25 throws, so we’ll see how he feels tomorrow and if he feels good I think he’ll go up to 90 feet.”