WASHINGTON -- Nationals third baseman Starlin Castro was placed on the restricted list on Wednesday to attend to a family issue. There is no timetable for his return to the team.
“We talked last night, and I just want him to go and handle those matters,” manager Dave Martinez said. “I can’t get into specifics. One thing’s for sure -- Starlin’s good. He just needs to take care of some stuff.”
Castro was out of the lineup on Tuesday, and he left Nationals Park prior to the start of the game. Jordy Mercer started at the hot corner for the second day in a row. Utility man Josh Harrison is also an option to play third.
“I 100% support him, and we all support him here at the Nationals,” Martinez said of Castro, who is slashing .239/.287/.312 this season. “Hopefully he can resume and get back to us as soon as possible.”
The Nats recalled infielder Luis García from Triple-A Rochester in a corresponding move. García was tabbed as the starting second baseman Wednesday. He posted a .319/.396/.553 slash line in 11 games this month with the Red Wings, and was named Triple-A East Player of the Week on June 7.
Familiar face Miller returns to Nats
Justin Miller was finishing lunch with his teammates after 18 holes of golf on Monday when he received a text message from Rochester Red Wings manager Matthew LeCroy: His contract was selected by the Nationals -- who were in need of pitching help because of Max Scherzer’s injured list stint -- and he would be rejoining the team he played with during the 2018-19 seasons the following day.
The 34-year-old right-hander headed to the airport for a 6:30 a.m. ET flight, which was delayed, and arrived in Washington around 10:30 a.m. Nearly 11 hours later, he took the mound in a Major League game for the first time since May 17, 2019.
Miller tossed two-thirds of an inning with one strikeout to close out the Nats’ 8-1 win over the Pirates Tuesday night.
“He did great,” Martinez said. “He threw strikes, pounded the zone, got a couple outs for us. We wanted to get him out there right away … and get him going.”
Miller has been working his way back to the bigs since his last stint with the Nationals, which was halted by a right rotator cuff strain. He looked to make his mark with the Blue Jays and Reds after that, but found himself without a camp invite this spring.
“Overall, there were no NRIs [non-roster invites] out there for me,” Miller said. “I had to throw for two months, throw for scouts, throw for teams. And then finally we decided to give the Nationals a call, and they gave me a shot. So it worked out.”
It worked out so well, in fact, that Miller pitched to a 1-0 record with a 0.55 ERA, five saves and 29 strikeouts in 13 appearances with the Nats’ Triple-A affiliate. When Washington needed to bolster its shorthanded pitching staff, Miller, who has been impressing with his fastball and slider, stood out.
“He deserves to be here right now,” Martinez said. “He was the best available and throwing the ball well, so he's here to help us win."
Miller attributes some of his success to feeling healthy. He worked with a physical therapist to open up his hips, which in turn has helped his forearm and shoulder. Then there’s also his relentless drive, exemplified by the words sprawled on the bracelets he wears: “Prove them wrong,” “Underdog mentality” and “Be your own goat.”
“I feel like I’m always the underdog, fighting against stuff,” Miller said. “I’m always one to prove people wrong.”