The Washington Nationals were cruising to victory Friday night against the Colorado Rockies, up 8-2 entering the sixth inning. However, second baseman Luis Garcia grabbed what appeared to be his hamstring after grounding out in the top of the sixth, and did not return.
Ildemaro Vargas took over at second base. Garcia was 2-for-4 on the night before leaving and upped his season average to .200 on the year through seven appearances. The Nats also have the right-handed bat of Michael Chavis on the bench, leaving general manager Mike Rizzo room to bring up almost anybody. But if he wants an middle infielder, he has a few choices in the minor leagues.
If it’s an injured list stint for Garcia, it will likely be 24-year-old middle infielder Jeter Downs called up, who is 2-for-14 (.167) with a walk so far this season with Triple-A Rochester. Jake Alu could be another option, though he’s currently rehabbing with High-A Wilmington after suffering an undisclosed injury early in spring training on March 4. Alu never appeared in another Grapefruit League game after that. He was activated today with Wilmington and singled in his first at-bat tonight.
Alu, 26, mashed between Double-A Harrisburg and Rochester last season, hitting .323 with 11 homers, and a 140 wRC+ in 59 games for the Red Wings.
With Vargas, he has bounced around his fair share of teams as he’s now in his seventh big-league season, was acquired by the Nats last season and posted a .280 average to go along with three homers, 19 RBI, and a 96 wRC+ in 53 games.
Downs appeared in 14 games for the Boston Red Sox — going 6-for-39 (.154) with a homer last season after 81 games with their Triple-A affiliate. He hit .197 with 16 homers, 41 RBI, and a 95 wRC+ in Triple-A last season.
The long-shot would be Darren Baker who is a second baseman in Triple-A, but that makes less sense to make that move.
If Garcia needs an IL stint, it should be one of Downs or Alu getting activated tomorrow. Clearly by the manager’s words, the team could do absolutely nothing and play a man short until Garcia feels back to 100 percent.