García went deep in the second inning on Monday night off the Braves' Touki Toussaint, giving Washington an early two-run lead in its 7-6 loss on a walk-off homer. The rookie is 20 years and 93 days old, and he was born on May 16, 2000.
What was going on in Nationals history on that date? The franchise still was located in Montreal, and the Expos beat the D-backs, 2-0. That night at Stade Olympique, Javier Vazquez earned the win as Randy Johnson fanned 12 and threw a complete game in the loss.
“I feel good,” García said. “I feel great to be here. I want to be here for a long time, and now I'm so excited, so happy to be here and be a good teammate.”
García’s inaugural homer was one of the Nationals’ highlights before their three-run ninth-inning lead slipped away at the hands of Daniel Hudson, who hit Nick Markakis with a pitch, then surrendered a two-run big fly to Adam Duvall and another two-run shot to Danby Swanson four batters later. With the loss, Washington slid into last place in the National League East.
The Nationals called up García on Friday from the alternate training site in Fredericksburg, Va., to make his Major League debut after starting second baseman Starlin Castro broke his right wrist. There is no timeframe for Castro’s return, and manager Dave Martinez is comfortable with the rookie manning the role.
“I really like Luis at second base,” Martinez said pregame. “I really do.”
It is fitting García would be the one to play second in Castro’s absence: They’re both generational trendsetters. On May 7, 2010, Castro became the first player born in the 1990s to hit a home run. He did so in his Major League debut as a member of the Cubs against the Reds.
The Nationals envisioned García becoming a longtime Major League contributor, like the veteran Castro, when they signed him in July 2016 for $1.3 million out of the Dominican Republic.
“The kid’s a player,” Martinez said. “He loves to play the game. He goes up there, he works good at-bats, he battles. You watch him, he’s pretty smart. All you’ve got to do is tell him once where to play, and he’s got it. You don’t have to move him around. He’s going to get it. He’s going to learn. He loves being here, we love having him. He’s got a lot of energy. He’s always cheering for his teammates. He’s a lot of fun to be around.”
García’s first career home run traveled a Statcast-estimated 410 feet to right-center field with an exit velocity of 100.6 mph. Martinez wanted to make sure he didn’t just swing for the fences after that. In his next at-bat, García smacked a hard line drive to third. He went 1-for-5 with 2 RBIs on the night.
“I told him, ‘Don’t let it go to your head. Remember who you are, stay in the middle of the field,’” Martinez said. “He came up and hit a line drive to third base. That tells me a lot about him. He’s going to have a lot of success in this league.”
With success on the field comes a requirement in the dugout -- post-home run dancing. García was tasked with his first showcase on Monday.
“The boys were curious to see what kind of dancer he was,” Martinez said. “He did all right.”
Responded García, “I'm a very good dancer. A little bit nervous, but I'm a very good dancer.”
García is the latest addition to a group of talented young players on a veteran-heavy Nationals team. He joins Juan Soto (21), Carter Kieboom (22) and Victor Robles (23) as glimpses into the organization’s future. Soto was one of four Nats to homer on Monday, along with García, Eric Thames and Asdrúbal Cabrera.
“It’s amazing to see a guy growing up and come up here and try to do the best,” Soto said on Sunday. “It just feels really good -- and now I feel a little old.”
Austin Voth looks for his first win of the season on Tuesday in a matchup of right-handers against Josh Tomlin. First pitch vs. the Braves is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET at Truist Park, live on MLB.TV.