For a lot of gamers, Spring Coaching means nothing greater than getting on top of things once more. Hitters getting their timing on the plate and pitchers build up their arms for the season forward.
For others, they’re in battles for taking part in time and have to impress to earn their spot as an everyday within the lineup or on the bench.
One such participant who got here into camp seeking to win a job for the Washington Nationals was Luis García.
Final season, García slashed .242/.275/.411 with six dwelling runs and 22 RBIs in 70 video games. Most of these video games got here at second base after the group’s commerce deadline sell-off, permitting them to take an extended take a look at the 21-year-old infielder within the majors to see how he would fare.
There have been shiny spots for certain. García flashed extra energy than he had at any level in his profession to that time, and he was in a position to make loads of nice defensive performs within the area.
However the dangerous additionally adopted. Regardless of making a few of these nice performs within the area, administration additionally noticed errors creep into his protection, and with the bat, he lacked the consistency that the group want to see from one in every of its potential foundational items.
However absolutely on a group in a rebuild, or retool because the Nationals insist on calling it, it could possibly be a very good time to maintain enjoying García within the majors to work out the kinks, proper?
Nicely, based mostly on how the Nationals have approached the offseason and Spring Coaching, it doesn’t seem as if that’s their present considering.
Over the course of the offseason, the group added a bunch of veteran center infielders. First, Alcides Escobar returned to the group on a one-year deal, then proper earlier than the lockout, they added César Hernández, additionally signed up for one season.
As quickly because the ink dried, Hernández projected to take over because the on a regular basis second baseman, squeezing out of the spot that García primarily occupied final season. And whereas García has performed loads of shortstop within the minors, that spot seems to be taken too.
“Alcides goes to play, he’s going to get the majority of the enjoying time,” Martinez stated earlier this week. “Proper now, he’ll get the majority of the video games at brief, after which we’ll go from there.”
That’s performed out in the course of the group’s first few Spring Coaching video games. In three of the Nats’ first 5 video games, Martinez has penciled Hernández and Escobar into his lineup as the center infield duo.
That’s typically a fairly telling signal that the Nationals’ skipper needs them to work collectively up the center, getting their timing down for double performs, and sizing up one another’s vary.
Not precisely a ringing endorsement when, in a season the place the Nationals must be centered on growth, the group is leaning towards a 35-year-old who has a .259/.295/.347 profession slash line and had spent two and a half years out of main league baseball previous to 2021.
There’s nonetheless an opportunity that García may impress Martinez and the teaching workers to earn a beginning job on the group, however they clearly wish to see extra earlier than handing him the reins.
“We’ve received to actually perceive that Luis continues to be very, very younger,” Martinez defined. “He’s discovered quite a bit, he’s been studying, he’s maturing.”
“He’s going to get a chance. However we’ll see, I imply, if he involves Spring Coaching, and like I stated, he limits the psychological errors, throwing the balls, his footwork, we’ll see the place he’s at. However, Alcides did effectively final yr and he actually helped our membership.”
So, with Escobar and Hernández seemingly set to be the first starters at shortstop and second base respectively, García is prone to begin the yr at Triple-A to get common enjoying time.
That’s all the time been the franchise’s modus operandi with regards to their high prospects. If there’s not a spot for them to play fairly usually, then don’t hold them as much as heat the bench, allow them to play usually within the minor leagues.
“I wish to ensure that Luis, when he’s within the large leagues, that he’s going to remain,” Martinez strengthened. “I actually don’t need him to platoon, I would like him to play day by day.
“He did quite a bit higher final yr in opposition to left-handed pitching, which is nice, so I wish to see him persistently do the little issues day by day.”
That point, nevertheless, doesn’t look like the beginning of this season, based mostly on how the group has dealt with García and the remainder of the center infield to date this spring…