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Washington Nationals news & notes: MacKenzie Gore & Luis García return; Nationals drop opener to Dodgers...

Notes and quotes from the Nationals’ series opener with the Dodgers in D.C.

MacKenzie Gore Returns To Rotation:

MacKenzie Gore missed a turn in the rotation on the Bereavement List, but the 24-year-old lefty returned to the mound last night in Nationals Park, ten days after his previous outing, which saw him go five innings on 106 pitches, giving up six hits, two walks, and one run in the start, on a solo home run. Gore wouldn’t have gone back out for the fifth in that start if he had not retired the side in order in a nine-pitch fourth.

“That one inning saved us. He went nine pitches, or else we couldn’t have sent him back out for the fifth ... but he did a good job of keeping his composure, and getting his five innings,” manager Davey Martinez said after the game.

Pitching on nine days’ rest, Martinez said before last night’s start, he wanted to see Gore try to build on the way he finished his previous start.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images

The Nationals’ skipper said he wanted to see Gore throw strikes and get ahead of hitters in the series opener with the LA Dodgers in D.C., with the club’s brass watching closely as he returned to the mound, and wound down the 2023 campaign coming off a 2022 season in which he missed time with an elbow issue which limited him to 87 innings overall between minor and major league starts. He was at 132 13 IP on the year going into last night’s game.

“We’ll keep an eye on him,” Martinez told reporters.

“It was unfortunate he had to miss a start,” the manager continued, “... but kind of a good thing too, because he’s getting up there in innings, but even his last start, it didn’t go quite as he wanted it to, but the fact that he went out there in that last inning, that last inning meant a lot, that was a big moment for us, for him, and he did really well, so I told him, ‘I want you to build off that inning.

“Take the positives away from that and understand that hey, when you’re in the strike zone your stuff is electric and you can get big outs for us.”

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

Gore threw 21 of his final 29 pitches for strikes in that start, after throwing 38 of 79 pitches for strikes in his first three innings of work.

“So going into today,” Martinez said, “just understand to attack the strike zone and let’s see what happens, but your stuff is good.”

Gore threw 52 of 89 pitches for strikes in his return to the rotation last night, giving up six hits, three of them home runs, two walks, and four earned runs in four innings of work for Washington what ended up an 8-5 loss to Los Angeles (after a long, late rain delay).

“Obviously, I didn’t throw the ball very well,” Gore said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman after the game. “I don’t think it had anything to do with the extra days (off). It just wasn’t very good.”

His manager said a blister on Gore’s finger played a role in when he decided it was enough for the starter.

“I couldn’t send him back out,” Martinez said. “He had a blister again, same finger. It bubbled up on him. So I just said that’s it. We’ll have to look at that tomorrow and see where we’re at. But it would’ve been nice (to get more) because we covered a lot of innings (with the bullpen).”

Luis García Returns To Majors:

After explaining why the club sent Luis García down to Triple-A in early August, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies this past Wednesday the 23-year-old infielder would likely be back in the majors soon, having spent the month-plus working with Washington’s top minor league affiliate while developing a consistent approach at the plate and in his preparation for each game.

“He’s only 23 years old and has got a bunch of at-bats at the big league level under his belt with some success,” Rizzo said, “and we just need him to be consistent, be consistent in his game, in his preparation and how he attacks being a major leaguer.”

“We’ll see him soon in the big leagues playing second base for us every day because we think that he’s a big part of the future of this thing,” Rizzo predicted.

García was called back up in advance of last night’s series opener with the LA Dodgers in the nation’s capital.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

“He went down there and did everything we asked him to do,” manager Davey Martinez said of the work García did before getting the latest opportunity.

“Looks great. He was playing a lot better, playing with a lot of intensity, showing up early to the ballpark, getting all his work done. Really trying to hone in on just one swing.

“The biggest thing for him is that every day he was changing — different batting stances, where his hands go, so we are still going to work with him on just finding one particular swing and work with that and see if we can get him going consistently.

“But I’m proud of him. He went down there and did all the things we asked him to do.”

García, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman before the game, told reporters getting sent down to Triple-A obviously wasn’t ideal, but he got the message the club was sending with the move:

“I can’t say that initially I was very happy with the decision,” García said, via interpreter Octavio Martinez. “More, I guess, I didn’t understand it. But on my drive to Scranton … I started just kind of thinking about it and realized that it’s part of the game to help me, so that I can improve in certain aspects of my game. And I looked at it that way. And I went down there to work, and it’s a learning experience. And I feel like I did that, but I’m back up here trying to just do what I can to finish strong.”

His manager was happy to see García embrace the time in Triple-A as an opportunity.

“It means a lot to me,” Martinez explained. “I have all the faith in the world about Luis, and I say this all the time, he’s still a big part of our future, but I want him to understand that he needs to do the right things every day. Even when things are going bad hitting-wise he needs to play good defense. He needs to be engaged. He needs to play second base every day the way we ask him to play it.

“But I think he understands that, he worked really hard to get better, and hopefully that hard work pays off up here.”

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

Sending him down, Martinez said in early August, would allow García to work on developing a more consistent approach, “... without having to worry about putting up numbers.”

Now that he was back, the manager said last night, he wanted to make sure García did not press at the plate trying to make things happen, or dwell on his previous at-bats.

“The biggest thing is to be where your feet are, you know, and I told him that,” Martinez said.

“I said, ‘You can’t control your last at-bat, you control what you do right now in this very moment, so understand that and learn by your mistakes, and move on and get better.”


“Stephen Strasburg is and always will be an important part of the Washington Nationals franchise. We support him in any decision he makes and will ensure that he receives what is due to him.

“It is regrettable that private discussions have been made public through anonymous sources attempting to negotiate through the media. While we have been following the process required by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, behind-the-scenes preparations for a press conference had begun internally. However, no such event was ever confirmed by the team or promoted publicly. It is unfortunate that external leaks in the press have mischaracterized these events.

“It is our hope that ongoing conversations remain private out of respect for the individuals involved. Until then, we look forward to seeing Stephen when we report to Spring Training.


Washington Nationals Managing Principal Owner Mark D. Lerner