Gallo activated, Lipscomb optioned, García scratched

PHILADELPHIA – In his 91 plate appearances with the Nationals before landing on the injured, Joey Gallo hit three homers and had nearly three times as many strikeouts as walks. In his 44 plate appearances in the minor leagues, while rehabbing his shoulder injury, he hit four homers and had nearly a 1-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

So as he returns to the lineup tonight after three weeks on the IL, Gallo is understandably optimistic he can continue what he did in the minors at the major-league level.

“You hope so,” he said. “I felt pretty good down there. Just getting at-bats and seeing pitching, that’s what it’s about. Obviously it’s not the big leagues, but it’s as close as you can get to it. We’ll have to see. But I feel good. I feel like I’m ready to go. I’m excited to just be here with the team, back with the boys, and trying to win games.”

The Nationals activated Gallo off the 10-day IL this afternoon, optioning Trey Lipscomb to Triple-A Rochester to create a roster spot. And the big slugger is right back in the thick of things, batting cleanup and starting at first base in the series opener against the Phillies.

There’s no guarantee Gallo will continue to hit well, but a Nats club that has totaled only 35 homers in 42 games certainly would benefit from a power surge by the 30-year-old, who was signed for $5 million specifically for that purpose.

“Big homers,” manager Davey Martinez said when asked what he hopes Gallo provides his team. “And he plays good defense. He’ll take his walks. I’m really happy he’s healthy and feels great. That’s great news. He’ll supply some power for us in the middle of the lineup, drive in some runs.”

Gallo’s first three weeks in D.C. didn’t feature a lot of that. He totaled just nine hits in 74 at-bats, with five doubles, three homers and only one single. He drew 15 walks but struck out a staggering 43 times. (That last figure still ranks 23rd in the National League even though he has barely played in half of his team’s games.)

Turns out Gallo wasn’t 100 percent healthy through much of that time. He said his left shoulder was bothering him “pretty much on and off the whole season,” though it got considerably worse when he dove into second base on April 15 at Dodger Stadium and smashed into Los Angeles shortstop Miguel Rojas. He played another eight games after that, going 1-for-21 with five walks and 17 strikeouts before finally landing on the IL with an AC sprain in his shoulder.

“It got to a point where I couldn’t lift it up at all, and that’s when I was really concerned,” he said. “It just wasn’t where it needed to be, and we thought I probably needed to miss some time and get it back to full strength. I’m ready to go now. I think it should be 100 percent again.”

Martinez intends to play Gallo most days at first base, assuming the shoulder remains strong, with occasional time at DH to allow Joey Meneses a chance to play the field.

The decision to demote Lipscomb came only days after the rookie infielder had his second three-hit, three-steak game of the season. In 33 total big league games across two stints now, Lipscomb is batting .252 with a .620 OPS.

As much as they’ve liked what they’ve seen in spurts from the versatile infielder, the Nationals want to see more consistency from him.

“There’s days when he looks really good, and there’s days when he’s just late on fastballs and decision-making,” Martinez said. “But I told him that’s going to happen. It’s your first time in the big leagues. He’s running the bases well. He’s playing defense well. He does all the little things we’ve asked him to do really well. So for me, it’s just about getting him consistent, and continue to build his confidence.”

* Luis García Jr. was scratched from tonight’s lineup with a right heel ailment suffered Wednesday in Chicago. García said he was running out a grounder and when he planted his right foot on first base, the cleat on his heel poked through the inside of his shoe, an unexpected and painful development.

Initially, in the lineup as the cleanup hitter tonight, García tried to take swings in the cage and was still bothered by the foot. He hopes he’s good to return Saturday evening.

Slumping Nats lineup can't break out in 4-2 loss t...
Game 43 lineups: Nats at Phillies (updated)

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to