Luis and CJ:
Unfortunately for the Washington Nationals, the decision to call newly-acquired, 21-year-old shortstop CJ Abrams up came after they placed 22-year-old infielder Luis García on the 10-Day IL (retroactive to August 13) with a left groin strain on Monday afternoon, so the plan to get the middle infield duo of the future together in D.C. will have to wait a bit, but the club did try to facilitate the relationship by placing their lockers together in the Nats’ clubhouse.
“We want them two guys to work together, yeah, and communicate,” Martinez explained in his pregame press conference before last night’s game.
SS – No. 5 – CJ Abrams pic.twitter.com/EMMJ61e4nZ— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 15, 2022
“They’re two of our younger players, so we definitely want them to be together as much as possible and get to know each other.”
Martinez didn’t have a timeline for when García, who tweaked his groin in last Friday night’s game against the San Diego Padres, will be ready to return to the lineup.
“I have no idea,” he said.
“Right now he’s going to strengthen his groin with the trainers, we’ll try to get him back on his feet as soon as he possibly can, and as soon as they deem him [ready] to take ground balls then we’ll do that.”
When they are both ready to go, the Nationals will get a glimpse of their future, and it’s got their manager excited about the last six weeks of the season.
“Well this is what we talked about moving forward, right, is some of our youth,” Martinez told reporters, “and now we’re getting to see some of that here, and that definitely excites me a lot. So, watching these guys all play together, and grow together, it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’ s going to be some work, a lot of work, but it’s going to be fun.”
Abrams Early In Career:
A 2019 1st Round pick by the Padres, who debuted in San Diego as a 21-year-old earlier this season, CJ Abrams is still early in his professional career, but he’s shown enough to get two opportunities in the majors (though both were a result of other players getting injured), and he’s shown plenty of promise in limited games since he was drafted 6th overall in ‘19.
He’s supremely-talented, but still, obviously, has a lot to learn, and he knows it.
“I try to learn in everything I do,” Abrams told reporters in his first meeting with the press on Monday night. “Every day you’ve got to get better. Everybody is good at this level, so you’ve got to strive to be the best.”
Asked about his approach to the game, Abrams said, “I like to play the game hard, I like to play hard, play at a fast pace, get outs, and score runs.” Pretty simple.
He also said he’s excited about joining the Nationals, even if they are rebooting the entire organization, because he sees some talent on his new team.
“We have a good core here, we’re going to build, and get wins for sure, soon,” he said.
The excitement is mutual.
Manager Davey Martinez said he likes what he’s seen of Abrams at the plate, though there is room for improvement, he too noted, like there is with most young hitters.
“I know from what I’ve heard and from what I’ve seen, the ball comes off his bat fairly well,” the manager said on Monday. “A lot — we got to get him to stay in the zone, and not chase. He’s just one of those young hitters, as we saw with Luis [García], Keibert [Ruiz], you know, those guys they think they can hit everything. He’s got a little bit of that. So we’re going to, like I said, we’re going to teach him to, try to teach him, how to limit his chases and get the ball in the strike zone, because he does have good bat-to-ball skills. And that’s what we like about him, so — but that will come in time, I really believe that. I can say the same thing — I was the same way when I was young.
“You thought you could hit any ball that they threw at you, but he’ll learn that in time.
“Here, you’ve got to limit that, and get the balls where you think you can handle and put good swings on them.”
Abrams had a positive attitude and approach going into his debut for the Nationals.
“You just got to think you’re here for a reason,” he said, “take a few deep breaths, and play the game.”
Keeping Keibert Healthy:
Nationals’ catcher Keibert Ruiz took two rough foul balls to the mask in last night’s game, and the Nats’ trainer and manager Davey Martinez made sure to check on him each time, but left the 24-year-old catcher in even though he got his bell rung.
Martinez said after the game Keibert was okay, but they want to be careful with him since it’s happened often this season. And a hit-by-pitch on his knee late in the game didn’t help.
“He’s okay. He’s been hit a lot this year, and it’s kind of scaring me a little bit,” Martinez told reporters in his post game press conference. “The first time he got dizzy, the second time he said he felt okay, so we’re going to have to monitor him and keep an eye on him. He’s been hit quite a bit and hard. Those foul tips are really hard. So we’ll keep an eye on him, see how he’s doing. I was more concerned when he got hit in the knee by a slider, and he went to first base and he finally said he was alright.”
They’re trying to balance getting their No. 1 backstop all the reps they can as he get more and more experience, but they also want to make sure he’s healthy and able to stay in the lineup.
“We want to play him as much as possible,” Martinez said.
“We want him to understand what it is to grind — especially this time of year. He’s got to learn how to be out there and stuff. With that being said, he’s played a lot. We got to keep an eye on him, but like I said, he’s doing well, he’s blocking balls, he’s calling better games, which I love, he’s interacting with the pitchers, which is great. And he’s starting to hit the ball. Today he didn’t get any hits, but he struck — he had a couple good swings, hit the ball hard a few times, so for me it’s just a matter of time and how to teach him to get the ball in the air more, and that will come.”