Nationals

Nationals 2B Starlin Castro breaks wrist, prospect Luis Garcia called up

Nationals

The Nationals lost a key figure Friday night in Baltimore after Starlin Castro broke his right wrist on a fielding play in the resumption of a game postponed by the malfunctioning tarp in Nationals Park last Sunday.

His replacement is the organization’s top infield prospect, Luis Garcia, who spent last season with Double-A Harrisburg.

First, to Castro. His loss is enormous. His broken right wrist with six weeks to play likely means his season is over. The Nationals were using him as their No. 3 hitter in a lineup which had problems scoring runs as it was. He was hitting .283 entering the games Friday. The Nationals thought his second-half power surge in Miami last season would translate to this season as they tried to find offensive solutions to fill the void created by Anthony Rendon’s departure.

Garcia is a 20-year-old who has been at major-league spring training for back-to-back years. He’s large for his age (6 foot 2, 211 pounds) and hits from the left side. He said in 2019 he wanted to be “the next Juan Soto.” That needs context. Garcia was speaking to entering the major leagues at an early age and remaining there.

His glove is the better part of his game, to this point. Garcia had a .617 OPS during his full season at Harrisburg in 2019. He had not advanced past the Double-A level prior to his emergency call-up Friday.

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Garcia hit well this year at spring training in a limited sample size (25 at-bats) and most often against fringe major-league or purely minor-league competition.

Moving reliever Sam Freeman to the 60-day injured list allowed the team to add Garcia to the 40-man roster. Putting Castro on the 10-day injured list allowed the team to move Garcia, who was on the five-man traveling taxi squad, to the active 28-man roster. Davey Martinez opting for him to play over Wilmer Difo put him into the lineup Friday.

The Nationals will have to do significant shuffling with an already unproductive lineup now that Castro is no longer part of it. Asdrúbal Cabrera was moved to the No. 3 spot for Friday night’s full game. Garcia is hitting sixth in his debut.

The Nationals are 6-10 after finishing the completion of the postponed game from Sunday against the Orioles.

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