Spring Training Game #14 with Injury News and a player in Davey’s doghouse

After the first game of the doubleheader, we got some injury news, both considered minor, that Robert Hassell III is dealing with a tight groin, and Victor Robles has a bruised hamstring. Both are considered day-to-day. In addition to that news, manager Dave Martinez spent most of his postgame meeting with the media to discuss the mistakes and mental errors of Luis Garcia, Jr. who accumulated two fielding errors and one baserunning mistake.

“That can’t happen. We talked about that with him. We got to be beyond that now with him. I mean, like I said, he’s not a rookie. He’s been in this league now for a while. Those things cannot happen. If we’re gonna compete and do the things we want to do, he’s got to play good defense. He’s got to play good defense.”

“He’s gotta run the bases the right way, he’s got to work good at-bats. So I’ll talk to him tomorrow about it. But you can’t give up those kinds of errors like that. … Those are mental errors that shouldn’t happen.”

— Martinez said about Garcia after the game

The issue with both Robles and Garcia is that they can go from a great play to a mind-boggling mistake, and this has been an ongoing theme that has resulted in demotions in their careers. Last year, a series of mistakes landed Garcia in a demotion to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. Both Robles and Garcia have built up a reputation of mental mistakes. Robles for instance has lost four balls in the sun early in Spring Training games while not one other player in any of the games has had a similar result. He’s been told to shield his eyes with his hand or glove, and try to angle around balls so he doesn’t have to look straight into the sun. That has been a problem in his career along with poor reads at contact. At one point, Robles had the speed to take advantage of his own mistakes, but not as much anymore.

Officially, Garcia went 3-for-3 in the game with a booming double to start the game from the lead-off spot he occupied today. His three hits included a gift infield single that should have been an error. Teams use their own personnel as official scorers in Spring Training — and they spared Jose Altuve from an error by giving Garcia a hit. In the Nats second baseman’s third at-bat, he dunked a ball in front of the left fielder that seemed routine enough, and Garcia tried to stretch it, with the play in front of him, to a double and was easily thrown out. Two fielding errors and one baserunning blunder placed Garcia squarely into his manager’s doghouse.

The 9-4 loss doesn’t count in any standings of official record, but what does count is effort. Martinez speaks all the time about not giving more than 27-outs, or in this case, just giving the game away which also included a triple turned into a “Little League” homer by an error on a relay throw from James Wood to Darren Baker.

With Wood, he has been on a downer ever since the news of Eddie Rosario‘s signing became public. I’ve been assured that Wood’s slump has nothing to do with Rosario’s new employment. Okay, fine it’s just a coincidence — but a poorly timed coincidence. Wood was looking like he had to be on the Opening Day roster. Well, since the Rosario signing, Wood is 0-8 with 3 strikeouts, and even a double play he grounded into today was questioned by someone (Stever20) as to whether he was running at full speed. This is a player that beat out a routine infield grounder for a hit, and almost beat out another with 4.07 blazing speed — so sure, with a 4.07, there’s no GiDP there. Add in the throwing error, and Wood just made general manager Mike Rizzo’s job a lot easier if he decides to cut Wood.

Overall, Wood is still doing great batting .333 with an 1.122 OPS. When you get the praise that puts you on a pedestal, the competition’s job is to knock you off. For Rizzo, it’s a case of what have you done for me lately. He was clear on this that prospects “have to kick the door down.”

“I won’t say anyone doesn’t have a chance [to make the Opening Day roster], but they have to kick the door down — and force us to put them on the team. It’s not the best guys long-term, it’s the best guys right now … ”

— Rizzo said on the Grant & Danny Radio Show on 106.7 earlier in the week

Over larger sample sizes, most players show you what they really are, and Rizzo talks all the time about the stats on the back of the baseball card. Joey Gallo, who is having a miserable Spring Training with a 53.3 percent K rate and a .071 batting average, can just wipe his Spring Training slate clean — but players on the edge do not have that same luxury. They have to make the roster by busting through the barriers in front of them. We are rooting for Wood, Dylan Crews, Brady House, Hassell, and the rest of them — but our applause and propping them up when they do something right has to be backed up by tangible proof by more than 19 at-bats. In the regular season, 19 ABs is just a hot four or five games.

At least none of the prospects are in Martinez’s doghouse. You just don’t want to be there. Step it up boys because you have two and a half weeks to impress the bosses. Don’t worry about what you cannot control like Rosario’s signing or the fact that you might only get one at-bat in a game. You have to take advantage of the scraps they give you. Play your game, and kick down the door. Crews will get the start in this evening’s game with Trey Lipscomb, Jake Alu, and Jacob Young. The starting pitcher is Zach Davies — maybe Trevor Williams‘ poor start this afternoon will open a door for him.

This game has Marlins’ radio for the 6:05 pm start at the CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches.

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