While Escobar deals with injury, García gets shot at short

It was lost in the shuffle a bit during a chaotic weekend that saw the Nationals undergo so much change, but infielder Alcides Escobar hasn’t played since Friday, still dealing with a swollen left wrist after getting hit by a pitch.

Escobar wasn’t in the lineup for Saturday or Sunday’s games against the Cubs, and he’s again out of the lineup tonight against the Phillies, though he made some progress today when he played catch prior to the Nats’ batting practice.

“He’s still going to be day-to-day,” manager Davey Martinez said during his pregame Zoom session with reporters. “He’s sore. He did a little bit of throwing today. It feels better, but he still can’t swing the bat yet. So we’ve just got to keep an eye on him.”

X-rays and an MRI on Escobar’s wrist came back negative, but there was so much swelling in his wrist he needed to have it drained.

“It’s painful,” Martinez said. “I saw it. It kept swelling up. The swelling has gone down significantly. But now it’s just sore. And it’s in his joint, where he has trouble moving his wrist. But he’s getting better.”

Escobar, the 34-year-old picked up last month from the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate after the Nationals suffered a sudden rash of injuries to infielders, may not seem like an important part of the roster now in the wake of this week’s massive sell-off. But for now, they still need him to get at least some playing time at one of middle infield positions, with 21-year-old Luis García holding down the other and Carter Kieboom at third base.

The only other healthy infielder on the 26-man roster at the moment is Adrián Sanchez, who has been starting at second base the last three days. A member of the organization since 2007, the 30-year-old surely isn’t competing for a starting job in the long-term.

So expect Escobar to continue to play regularly once he’s healthy again. The question then becomes how he and García split up the middle infield positions.

Yunel Escobar white pain.jpgEscobar had been playing second base with Trea Turner at shortstop, but he shifted over after Turner tested positive for COVID-19 and then later was traded to the Dodgers. García has been at shortstop since Escobar got hurt, but many in the organization believe his best chance long-term will be at second base.

“Ultimately, I’d like to just pick a spot for him,” Martinez said. “Right now, especially that Escobar is down, I want him to play shortstop for a few days, and then we’ll go from there. But he’s done both, and done both fairly well.”

While he’s getting some time at shortstop, the Nationals want García to work on some specific things.

“The biggest thing, especially over at shortstop, we’re pushing him to come get the ball a little more,” Martinez said. “Come get that good hop and not sit back on his heels. We’re going to work with him to get him better at that, and we’ll see where he’s at. But around second base, he’s really good at turning double plays from both sides of the field.”

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