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Washington Nationals news & notes: Luis García heads out on rehab assignment; teaching in the majors + more

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability on Sunday, to get you through a Nationals-free Monday...

Luis García Returns To Rochester:

The Washington Nationals placed infielder Luis García on the 10-day Injured List (retroactive to August 13th) with a left groin strain last Monday, and Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said on Sunday in San Diego the 22-year-old shortstop was heading to join Triple-A Rochester to start up a rehab assignment with the hope he can get some at-bats in, and quickly return and get to work getting to know the club’s new middle infielder, CJ Abrams.

“They’ve got a day off [Monday],” Martinez said, “... so he’ll play Tuesday, Wednesday, we have a day off Thursday, so if he needs another day to play on Thursday he will, and then hopefully he can back with us on Friday if everything goes well.”

García was on a nice run at the plate before the injury, going 18 for 55 (.327/.345/.509) with two doubles, a triple, two home runs, two walks (matching his walk total in the previous 45 games), and 10 Ks in 58 PAs over 15 games going back to July 26th, and he’s been working out at second base (where he played most of the time in the majors in 2020-21), in anticipation of a move back over there to play alongside Abrams at short.

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Martinez said García is okay with the move, and handling it well.

“He’s been great,” the fifth-year skipper said.

“He’s been awesome. He’s a young kid who just wants to play. We’re fortunate that he can play both, but he’s looking forward to playing second base next to CJ.”

As for what boxes they want to see García check before he’s back up with the team again, Martinez said it was just about getting reps again.

“We’re just going to get him out there and play, just play games. He says he’s ready to play nine innings right from now, but we’ll see,” Martinez said with a laugh.

“If he can go out there, and play six or seven innings the first day, see how he feels the next day, and even if he can DH the next day, and then play again on the field the following day it would be great.”

Teachable Moments:

Gone are the days of learning everything you need to in the minors before you’re called up to the big leagues. Actually that was probably never really the case. But it’s learning on the job in the majors now, especially with the rebooting Nationals, as manager Davey Martinez has explained often this season, and he said on Sunday it was one consideration with his coaching staff when they reshuffled things over the winter to bring a couple new people in who could help the organization at this stage.

“These guys are teachers,” Martinez said of his coaching staff. “That’s kind of what we’re at — I know a lot about [Bullpen Coach] Ricky Bones in the bullpen, I knew a lot about [Third Base/Infield coach Gary DiSarcina] and what he’s done. Think about it, [DiSarcina] had [Francisco] Lindor, he had [Xander] Bogaerts, he had [Rafael] Devers, he’s had a lot of good players that he’s helped along the way, so I thought these guys, as we got younger, they’d be good teachers and good mentors, and they’ve been that. [Bench Coach Tim Bogar] has been with me for a very long time.

“We were young over in Tampa and he worked with [Ben] Zobrist and a bunch of younger guys. These guys know the game, they know it well, and they know how to teach.”

Martinez has embraced the teaching part of the job as well, as a Spring Training instructor, bench coach, and eventually a manager, following a 16-year big league career as a player.

“It’s like having class with these guys, it really is,” he told reporters. “Like I said, they go through a routine, whether it’s in the cage, whether it’s fielding, we’ll talk to them about some analytical stuff if we need to. I don’t like to put a whole lot into their head when it comes to that, just the things we feel like they need to get through the day, and then we’ll go from there.”

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Catcher Keibert Ruiz and starter Josiah Gray, part of the prospect haul the Nationals got at the trade deadline in 2021, came up pretty quickly late last season, and got work in as they adjusted to a new organization, the way a number of prospects are right now (including a few acquired at this year’s deadline), and Martinez said the learning they did last year, and again this year, has played an important part in their development, which will hopefully pay off down the road when the club is contending again.

“For both of those guys, especially Keibert, he understood the importance of knowing his pitchers, right?” Martinez said when asked what they learned over the last months of their 2021 seasons.

“So, he came with a different attitude about learning the pitchers. And like I said, he’s done a lot better job of that, and then for Josiah, we talked a lot about his mechanics, repeating his mechanics, high-leverage situations where last year he struggled a little bit on and got frustrated.

“This year, there’s hardly been any of that, so it’s been really good.

“Like I said, I’ve seen improvement on both, and hopefully after this year, they can learn a lot from what happened.

“And then next year they come back a little bit better, and learning a lot more about what they need to do in certain situations.”