clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Washington Nationals news & notes: Luis García tweaks side; César Hernández post first HR of 2022 + more...

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability over the weekend in Philadelphia...

Luis García Sits Again?:

Luis García didn’t play in Saturday’s game in Citizens Bank Park, but his manager, Davey Martinez, told reporters it was a planned night off for the 22-year-old second baseman.

“I just wanted to give him a break,” Martinez explained. “We’ve got a day game tomorrow, [and] like I said, I’m going to periodically give these guys a day, so today was his day, day game tomorrow, but he’s doing fine.”

Unfortunately, García apparently wasn’t doing fine after he hit on the day off on Saturday, and tweaked something in his side.

Martinez updated reporters on the infielder’s status in his pregame press conference on Sunday morning.

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

“He actually hit yesterday after we spoke,” the fifth-year manager said, “and he came up to the trainer and said his right side was sore. So he got evaluated. They worked on him.

“I want to be extra careful, so we’ll give him today off. Then we’ve got a scheduled day off tomorrow. So we’ll see how he feels today and then tomorrow.”

In nine games this month, Garcia is 12 for 42 (.286/.302/.429) with three doubles and a HR in 43 plate appearances, over which he’s walked once and gone down swinging 13 times.

On the year, in his third big league campaign, García’s posted a .290/.302/.427 line with 17 doubles, two triples, six home runs, five walks, and 64 Ks in 296 PAs since he came up back on June 1st after starting the year at Triple-A Rochester.

Natitude Problem*:

[ed. note - “ * = That was the Phillies’ header in their game notes for Sunday’s game, where they noted the following about their dominance over the Nationals in recent years.”]

As noted in Philadelphia’s Game Notes for the third of three with the Nationals in CBP:

“The Phillies have won seven straight games against the Nationals (since 7/7), and over the last three years, are 32-11 (.744 win%) in 43 games against the Nats with a +93 run differential (270-177) … Philadelphia’s .744 winning percentage against the Nats since 2020 ranks 2nd among all major league teams against any single opponent in that span (min. 40 G), behind only the Dodgers against the Diamondbacks (.825).”

“… since July 29, 2021 (game 2), the Phillies have won 20 of their last 22 games against the Nationals – prior to this, the last time the Phillies won 20 of 22 against any opponent was from April 14, 1962-May 16, 1963 against Houston (also 20-2)

Add in the fact the Nationals, after Saturday’s loss, were 11-45 against their divisional rivals on the year heading into the finale with the Phillies, with a 3-10 record against Atlanta, 1-12 mark against Miami, a 5-11 record against New York, and a 2-12 record against Philadelphia, and it’s been a tough year for Washington’s Nationals.

Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Manager Davey Martinez talked after the 8-5 loss on Saturday about what’s gone wrong recently against the Phils, including in the second of three in Citizens Bank this weekend.

“It’s about the walks,” Martinez said, “getting those guys on, like I said, we got to play clean defense, but it’s also about making better pitches with some of these guys.

“You really got to focus on making pitches, and like I said, when you get ahead, you really got to focus on putting them away, don’t let them get back in the count.”

Hernández 1st HR & Aftermath:

In his 546th plate appearance of the 2022 campaign, César Hernández, who hit a career-high 21 home runs between Cleveland and Chicago (AL) in 2021, finally hit his first homer for the Washington Nationals, after signing a one-year deal with the club this past winter.

In four games which followed, before Saturday night’s game in Citizens Bank Park, the 32-year-old, 10-year veteran went 7 for 15 (.467/.500/.667) with a double, a triple, a walk, and one strikeout in 18 plate appearances over that stretch.

His manager said before the second of three with the Phillies, he thought finally getting the first home run of the year definitely took a weight off Hernández’s shoulders.

“I think it did help a little bit,” Davey Martinez told reporters in Philadelphia, “and I think the other thing is going out there and not trying to hit them. Just go out there and just see the ball, try to hit line drives, and staying in the middle of the field. I often talk to him about trying to hit more doubles, as opposed to just — because typically when you try to do that, some balls will go out of the ballpark, but it was good that he got the one out of the way, and now like I said, he’s been trying to stay in the middle of the field, and he’s been playing well.”

Washington Nationals v. St. Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Hernández has played third base and left since Luis García returned from an injury to take the second base job, with CJ Abrams bumping García from short, but Hernández has given the club the same solid effort he’s been giving the Nationals all season regardless of where he’s put in the field, and is now enjoying a nice run of success at the plate as well.

On the year, Hernández has a .252/.315/.326 line, 27 doubles, four triples, and the one home run in 132 games and 565 plate appearances.

“He’s out there, he’s having fun,” Martinez said.

“I told him, I said, ‘You’re going to play different positions, but the biggest thing is go out there and compete.’ And he does that. He knows — it’s been a rough go for him only because the power numbers haven’t been there like he thought they would be, but I told him, ‘You’ve still got a job to do with us, just playing good defense, getting on base for us, and doing the little things,’ and his last week, he’s been really, really good, and not trying to do too much. He’s just trying to put the ball in play, he’s got some big hits for us and made some really good plays over at third base, and even played well in the outfield, so like I said, he’s just going out there trying to have fun and finish strong.”

More Like Gorechester:

Davey Martinez suggested the goal in his first rehab start was to get 23-year-old left-hander MacKenzie Gore three ups and go from there as he works his way back from inflammation in his left elbow, which landed the 2017 1st Round pick on the Injured List when he was still on the Padres.

“We’re going to get him three ups, we’ll see how does,” Martinez said on Saturday, “... and after that we’ll see how he’s feeling, and like I said, we’re going to stick to a process, but he’s doing well and we’ll see how he feels after that, and hopefully by the end of all this he could possibly make a start for us here before he goes home.”

Asked how much Gore would need to build up before getting the call, Martinez said they want to see him get up to around five innings.

“I think we can get him up to about 75 pitches, maybe five ups,” he explained, “and then we’ll go from there, but with that being said, we don’t know if that’s going to be enough, but we’ll see how he makes it through tomorrow and then we’ll go from there.”

Gore ended up going just 1 23 IP on 36 pitches (21 strikes) getting close-ish to the 3/45 mark the Nationals were hoping for the first time out, but not quite on a rainy day in upstate NY.

Keibert Ruiz Update:

Keibert Ruiz left the final game of four in St. Louis after taking a foul ball to the groin, and the 24-year-old catcher ended up having to go on the IL, with his season effectively at an end after he was diagnosed with a testicular contusion. He’s still with the team as they’re wrapping up their road trip, but as manager Davey Martinez said on Saturday, he’s really done for the year at this point.

Washington Nationals v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

“Keibert came in yesterday,” Martinez said. “As we all know, he’s a bit sore. But he’s here. He said he feels good. But once again, he’s going to be down, probably for the rest of the year, it’s going to take him a while. But he looked good, he felt good, he was upbeat. He was tired. So he came out to say hello to the guys, but then we sent him back to the hotel. He slept all night, he’s sleeping all day. So he said if he’s feeling up to it, he might show up today.”

As long as he’s able to, Ruiz will remain with the team over the last few weeks as his first run in D.C. comes to an end.

“It all depends on how he’s really feeling. It really [does]. I mean, he took a blow, and it was tough, so we’ll see how he feels throughout the rest of this week, and we’ll go from there.”