Luis García went on the 10-Day IL (retroactive to August 13th) with a left groin strain back on August 15th, but the 22-year-old infielder healed up quickly enough to go out on a rehab stint earlier this week, and he got enough at-bats, and reps at second base (where he was set to move with CJ Abrams up to play shortstop full-time), the Nationals decided to call him back up in advance of last night’s series opener with Cincinnati’s Reds in Washington, D.C.
“He was ready,” García’s manager, Davey Martinez, told reporters in his pregame presser on Friday afternoon.
“He didn’t want to go down there to begin with. He thought he was ready right away. And I said, ‘No, you’re going to go down there and just get some at-bats, and play some second base, you haven’t done it.’ But he’s good to go.”
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, and 10 Ks in the previous 15 games and 58 plate appearances.
After the quick rehab trip, the Nationals brought García right back so he could get work in with Abrams down the stretch and get comfortable with his new double play partner.
“He went to play a rehab game to play just six innings the first game. He ended up playing nine. So that tells me that he’s pretty good,” Martinez said.
“So just let him go out there. He’s going to play. He’s going to play second base. I’m really looking forward to watching him and Abrams play together. That will be a lot of fun.
“And I’m curious to see how they do together, up the middle. So we’re excited about that as well. So he’s just going to go out there and play. I told him, I said, ‘Hey, just be honest with me. If you feel anything, just let me know, right away. But you’re going to go out there and you’re going to play every day until I think you need a day off.’”
What did Martinez think of their work together in the first game with both in the lineup?
“I liked seeing them,” he said after a 7-3 loss to the Reds.
“The future is bright, right, for us up the middle right now. It will take some time. The timing of the one double play wasn’t quite there, but I think once they get used to playing with one another it will get better.”
Roster Moves - Maikel Franco Released:
In addition to bringing Luis García back, and calling Cade Cavalli up to make his MLB debut, the Nationals announced two other roster moves before last night’s game:
- Selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Cade Cavalli from Triple-A Rochester
- Returned from rehabilitation assignment and reinstated infielder Luis García from the 10-day Injured List
- Optioned right-handed pitcher Cory Abbott to Triple-A Rochester (on Wednesday)
- Unconditionally released third baseman Maikel Franco
Franco, who turned 30 yesterday, ouch, signed a minor league deal with the Nationals this offseason, and ended up starting at third base after Carter Kieboom was injured, and over 103 games and 388 PAs, he put up a .229/.255/.342 line with 15 doubles and nine homers, but he was playing sparingly recently, with Ildemaro Vargas starting at third base more and more often, and the Nats finally made a tough decision when they had to yesterday.
“It was tough,” Davey Martinez said of having to deliver the news. “I love the guy. I mean, he was an unbelievable — clubhouse, teammate, he did everything. Just we felt like we’re going in another direction. We like the way Vargas has been playing. We know that Vargas can do a lot of different things in the infield. So, I mean, it’s unfortunate. But in this game, like I’ve said, that’s the toughest part of my job that I have to do, is telling somebody that he’s no longer going to be with us. But yet, there’s still other teams out there.
“And I told him, ‘If I could help you in any way possible, my number doesn’t change no matter what. So you can call me anytime.’”
Martinez said he also planned to have a conversation with veteran infielder César Hernández, who’s played 123 games at second this season, but is going to have a diminished role with the new-look middle infield in D.C.
“I’m going to talk to César,” Martinez said. “As you know, we’re going to play Luis and Abrams every day, you know. But there’s a possibility he might be able to play some third base, and he’s already taking ground balls there. So I’ll talk to him about that. I’ll also talk to him about maybe even playing in the outfield a little bit as well. I know he’s done that. But he could possibly do that as well. So I’ll find ways to kind of get him in. I just don’t want to sit there for five weeks. So he’ll definitely get some time in different positions.”
On the off day on Thursday, the Nationals added some pitching depth to the organization when they claimed right-handed pitcher Tommy Romero off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays and optioned the 25-year-old pitcher to Triple-A Rochester.
Romero, a 2017 15th Round pick by the Seattle Mariners, was traded to the Rays in 2018, and he made his debut earlier this season, and made three appearances in the majors before he was DFA’d by Tampa Bay and claimed by Washington.
“He’s a depth piece for us that we need moving forward, so he’ll be a nice addition,” Martinez told reporters. “He can start, he’ll come out of the bullpen, give us length.
“We felt like he could definitely help us, maybe not now, but maybe in the future, so he’s down there, he’s going to probably get to start right away, and then we’ll see where we’re at.”