García on field for first time since going on IL, Voit scratched

SAN DIEGO – From the moment they acquired him in the Juan Soto-Josh Bell trade, the Nationals envisioned CJ Abrams as their starting shortstop, with Luis García joining him up the middle as his double-play partner. And the intention was to make sure the two young infielders got as many opportunities to play together as possible before season’s end.

Abrams’ eventual promotion from Triple-A Rochester, though, coincided with García’s placement on the 10-day injured list with a left groin strain, thus preventing the two from playing together yet.

They’re getting close to the day when they can do it, though. And this afternoon, they did work together in the field for the first time when García participated in early drills for the first time since going on the IL six days ago.

Abrams and García took grounders together prior to batting practice, then also took swings in the cage together. It was a significant hurdle for García to cross in his recovery from injury, suggesting he could be ready to return shortly after he’s eligible to come back (Tuesday, at the earliest).

“He felt good,” manager Davey Martinez said. “So we’ve just got to progress now, and hopefully he continues to do well. We’ll have to come up with a plan, whether we want to send him out a few days to play (on a minor league rehab assignment) to see if he’s OK. Let’s see how he comes out of this, and how he feels tomorrow.”

Though they won’t rush García back, the Nationals do still intend to play their new middle-infield combo as much as possible down the stretch, setting the stage for next season.

“Yes, I want those guys to play as many times as they can possibly play,” Martinez said. “With that being said, we’ve got to make sure they’re both healthy. Luis looked good today taking grounders at second. We didn’t move him that much, but they turned double plays together, they got to know each other out there a little bit, so that was kind of nice.”

* Luke Voit was a late scratch from the Nationals lineup. The veteran first baseman had to depart Thursday night’s game after taking a pitch off his foot, but that’s not the reason for his absence tonight. According to the club, he has back tightness and is available to pinch-hit.

With Voit out, Martinez had to do some serious lineup reshuffling. Joey Meneses is now at first base, moved down to the No. 3 spot in the lineup, with Alex Call moving up to the No. 2 spot. Ildemaro Vargas moves up to No. 7, with Victor Robles taking over as the center fielder and batting ninth.

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