Notes: Garcia's growing; Robles taking it slow
JUPITER, Fla. -- Just hours before the Nationals faced the Cardinals on Saturday, manager Dave Martinez reflected on the ongoing transformation of 19-year-old Luis Garcia.
“Man, he’s growing,” Martinez said. “I saw this little, skinny kid when I first got here that everybody talked about. Now, man, he’s just filling out, just big.”
And he's coming up with big hits.
That same afternoon, Garcia belted his first home run of Spring Training. He drove in Carter Kieboom with a seventh-inning shot to center field off St. Louis righty Jake Woodford in Washington’s 6-3 loss.
“It felt great,” said Garcia, adding, “I am working a lot before the games, I am working on my routine, I am working on my legs.”
Garcia is the No. 97 prospect in baseball, per MLB Pipeline, and in 2019 was ranked as the Nats’ No. 2 prospect. Last season, he hit .257/.280/.337 with 135 hits and 11 stolen bases in 129 games for Double-A Harrisburg. The shortstop also participated in the Arizona Fall League, where he slashed .276/.345/.382 with 21 hits and two stolen bases in 20 contests. He increased his OPS from .617 to .726.
Martinez lauded the teenager for his maturity and baseball knowledge. He noted an at-bat this spring in which Garcia took a strike on a fastball, anticipated a changeup, moved up 6 inches in accordance and got a hit. In Saturday's home-run at-bat, he swung and missed at a 92.4-mph fastball, then knocked the next pitch -- a 92.6-mph fastball -- out of the park.
“For a kid that young to really pay attention and be intuitive to what this guy’s doing, it says a lot,” Martinez said.
Garcia hasn’t even reached Triple-A Fresno, and he already has shown the Nationals his potential.
“He’s going to be a good one,” Martinez said.
Robles day to day
Victor Robles underwent a precautionary MRI on his left oblique on Friday after slipping in Wednesday's road game against the Yankees. The results were negative. The Nationals have given the outfielder the past three games off as he deals with soreness, and he is listed as day to day.
“We’re always going to err on the side of caution right now,” Martinez said. “I talked to him today, he said he feels fine. I told him, ‘Let’s get it right. Get some treatment, and then we’ll see how you feel the next couple days.'”
In the meantime, Robles hit in the batting cage on Saturday.
“He felt fine,” Martinez said of the hitting session. “But it’s February. So, we’re going to let him kind of relax and build up and get ready to play him again.”
The Nationals are considering Robles for the leadoff spot as they weigh their batting order options. He is 0-for-4 with a run scored in his two spring games.
The members of the back end of the Nats’ bullpen are nearing their returns to the mound. Sean Doolittle is slated to pitch on Sunday. Daniel Hudson threw a side session on Saturday. He is scheduled for a day off on Sunday and is expected to pitch on Monday. Will Harris, who tweaked his left abdomen and was scratched from his spring debut on Thursday, could begin throwing again in two to three days. The trio combined for 29 2/3 innings last postseason.
The Nats will take on back-to-back National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom on Sunday. Aníbal Sánchez will make his second spring start for the Nats when they face the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla., at 1:05 p.m. ET.