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Washington Nationals news & notes: Keibert Ruiz to the IL; MLB rule changes; Alex Call in left field + more...

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability on Friday in Philadelphia...

Keibert Ruiz Likely Done For ‘22:

As the Nationals noted on Twitter in announcing roster moves before last night’s opener in the Phillies’ home, Keibert Ruiz, 24, went on the 10-Day IL with a “testicular contusion” that will likely cost him the rest of the 2022 campaign. Ruiz took a foul ball to the groin in the series finale with the Cardinals in St. Louis on Thursday afternoon, and ended up having to go to a local hospital where he remained as Washington traveled to Philadelphia overnight.

Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters before the first of three in Philly that Ruiz was on his way to the City of Brotherly Love to meet up with the team, but he was ordered to rest.

“He’s pretty much shut down for three weeks,” Martinez said.

“So as you know, we made a move, we called up one of our young catchers, [Israel] Pineda, so he’s going to be with us for the remainder of the time.

Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

“And we’ll get him out there, get him accustomed to everything we do, and get him to catch some games for us.”

The full list of roster moves:

  • Selected the contract of catcher Israel Pineda from Triple-A Rochester
  • Recalled right-handed pitcher Jordan Weems from Triple-A Rochester
  • Placed catcher Keibert Ruiz on the 10-day Injured List with a testicular contusion
  • Designated left-handed pitcher Jake McGee for assignment

Martinez didn’t fully commit to the idea of Ruiz being done for the year, but with the time remaining and the prescribed rest, it seems likely.

“We hope that he just continues to get better,” Martinez said. “We’ll see how he’s doing. But like I said, with everything going on, doctors said he’s not able to do anything strenuous for three weeks. So we’re just going to take it day by day and see how he’s feeling.”

If it is the end for Ruiz? He has a .251/.313/.360 line, with 22 doubles, seven home runs, 30 walks, and 50 Ks in 112 games and 433 plate appearances, over which he’s been worth 1.6 fWAR, and he’s thrown out 20 of 71 would-be basestealers this season (28% CS%) while he’s posted a .995 fld% on the year. He’s also been banged up a bit.

“He played through a lot of minor injuries, a lot of balls to the head. He was fine, but I’ll tell you, he’s done really well,” Martinez told reporters.

“Like I’ve said earlier, we talk about him a lot, but he’s matured behind the plate. He’s gotten a lot better at calling games. His hitting has gotten a lot better. As you know, he’s a catch-and-throw guy. I mean, he can throw guys out. He blocks balls well. He’s going to be a big part of our future moving forward. And I truly believe one of these years, this kid will be an All-Star. He’s improved that much.”

We Somehow Made Bob Carpenter Angry, How Was Your Friday?:

Gray Going Forward:

“He had no fastball command,” Davey Martinez told reporters in discussing Josiah Gray’s 3 13-inning, 84-pitch outing against the Cardinals in St. Louis this week.

“He got ahead of guys, he just couldn’t put guys away, and his pitch count just got up to [84] pitches in three innings, so I thought to get him out of there.”

Gray was on something close to a regular schedule this time out, after the Nationals kept him down for an extended period recently to stretch out his innings/pitches to try to get him through a full season in his first big league run.

With an outing like Gray, 24, had against the Cards (6 H, 2 HR, 3 BB, 4 ER), it was inevitable the manager would be asked if there were signs his starter, who’s now past his previously-established high for innings pitched since turning pro, with a few weeks to go in the 2022 campaign, was fatigued. Did he see signs?

“Today wasn’t fatigue,” he said. “I think it was more just trying to overthrow in situations. We got to get him more to calm down, get him back in his legs a little bit. If we can do that he’ll be just fine.

MLB: SEP 08 Nationals at Cardinals Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“So, we’ll take a look at all the stuff tomorrow, this information, we’ll talk to him and he’ll go out and throw his bullpen and we’ll see where we’re at then.”

And going forward? Will Gray start every 5-6 days? Get more rest between outings?

“We’ll see what happens over the next week or so,” Martinez said. “I mean, for me, it’s going to be hard to really completely shut him down. But we could do some other things, about maybe skipping him a start or something like that. I’m going to talk to Josiah. I’m going to talk to [Pitching coach Jim] Hickey, get on board with [GM Mike Rizzo]. But we know where he’s at, but you know the other thing is to continue to see how he is, continue build him up so that next year.

“I talk about it all the time, adding another 20% of innings, so if we can build him up this year, it helps for next year.”

So Long, Shift:

Back on August 31st, Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez was asked for his thoughts on a potential ban of shifts in baseball, before MLB announced they were going ahead with the ban (and a few other rule changes) over the objections, and a unanimous vote against said changes, by the player representatives on the Competition Committee:

Martinez’s take on the potential benefits of Shift Restriction(s)?

“I think it will help the offense for sure,” Martinez said.

“I mean, I think when the ball is hit in right field, a lot of times it probably should be a hit. We don’t know what all is going to transpire out of all this. Do guys need to have both feet on the dirt? Right? How far are they going to allow you to go to second base? All that stuff there’s still no answer to that, but like I said, if it does happen, I want to make sure we’re prepared for us and it doesn’t sneak up on us next year and we’re trying to figure out what we’re going to do.”

In order to prepare the team, Martinez discussed possibly playing defense without shifts this season so the younger players can start getting used to positioning and play without them.

But the fifth-year skipper said there were still questions to be answered, and obviously, once there were set rules, it would be time to see how they could test the limits.

“Obviously we’re going to play kind of a normal defense, what we consider normal, but how much can we get away with moving guys?” he asked.

Call Him Maybe:

Alex Call made an all-out effort to catch Tommy Edman’s walk-off, line drive double in St. Louis on Wednesday night, and the Nats’ left fielder got close, but his last-ditch, all-out, diving effort fell short and the ball bounced off the track for a game-winning hit.

Watching his outfielder, who came on as a pinch hitter in the eighth and stayed on to play left, Davey Martinez said he thought for a second Call might make the play.

“Yeah, I thought — I mean, he ran out there really well, and as he got closer I said, ‘Man, he might catch the ball,’ but he made an unbelievable effort.”

Call thought he had a shot too. And he wasn’t happy it fell in for a hit.

Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

“I did think about it a lot last night,” Call told reporters of the pivotal play, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.

“It’s not like anybody is like: ‘That was a routine play.’ But if I catch it, we win the game, there’s no doubt about that. And as a player who takes pride in being prepared, takes pride in his defense, I want to make that play. Every time, I want to make it for [closer Kyle Finnegan] and for all the guys on the team. So it was a tough pill to swallow, especially because I haven’t been playing every day. I want to come in and contribute in any way that I can.”

Call got another opportunity to contribute in Thursday’s series finale in St. Louis, starting when Victor Robles was scratched with a stiff neck, and the 27-year-old rookie outfielder went 4 for 5 with two singles, a double, and a three-run home run in the Nationals’ 11-6 win over the Cardinals.

“He was really good,” Martinez said after the game.

“He’s a gamer. He plays hard. So he had a great day today, so I think he might have earned a spot in the lineup tomorrow. So we’ll see if we can get him going and keep him going.”

Though he wasn’t originally in the lineup for the finale with the Cards, Martinez said he is comfortable putting Call out there when he does, knowing he’ll get the same good effort.

“I know what I’m gong to get from him when he goes out there to play: He’s all in, 150% every day from that kid, and I can’t ask more of him.”

Call did get another start in the series opener with the Philadelphia Phillies last night in Citizens Bank Park, and he went 3 for 4 with another home run in the Nationals’ 5-3 loss.

“He’s staying on the ball, he’s swinging it well,” Martinez said after the opener in Citizens Bank Park.

“The thing I know about Alex: When he doesn’t chase, he puts the ball in play, he hits the ball hard. He laid off some good pitches. He’s getting in good counts to hit, and he’s hitting the ball hard. He plays aggressive, too. He’s got a lot of energy, but I love the way he plays the game.”