Washington’s Nationals introduced their seventh full-time manager this afternoon in a press conference in the nation’s capital.
Dave Martinez, who succeeds Dusty Baker on the bench in D.C., was given a new jersey, No. 4, and he talked to reporters about getting his first managerial job and what he’ll bring to the table as the Nats’ new skipper.
“First and foremost, I want to thank the Lerner family, their extended family, Mike Rizzo, baseball ops, all the people involved that got me here,” Martinez said in his first comments as the Nationals’ manager.
“I’m honored and elated to be a part of the Washington Nationals family. I’m looking forward to my tenure here and I really, really, really, am blessed to be able to work with some of the finest — which I believe [is] one of the better teams in the National League, and I’m looking forward to working with them and being a part of the 2018 championship season.”
GM Mike Rizzo offered his thoughts on what will make Martinez a success in D.C.
“What he brings to the table is he’s a perfect blend of the old-school, 16-year veteran who grinded out a 16-year successful career in the big leagues,” Rizzo explained, “and a creative, analytically-minded person that can put both of them together and really have the best of both worlds.”
Martinez comes to Washington after serving as Joe Maddon’s bench coach with Tampa Bay and Chicago for the past ten seasons, helping get the Rays to the World Series and winning one with the Cubs in 2016, when they helped end the 108-year championship drought for the city.
“You talk about creating cultures both in Tampa and in Chicago where they were very, very successful, and he was a big part of that,” Rizzo added.
“Talking with Joe and Theo [Epstein] — who could not have spoken more highly of this person right here, it was great information.”
“I have a lot of high energy,” Martinez said when asked how he’ll approach his new job.
“Positive energy. I’m not a guy that’s going to sit in the manager’s office, I’m very hands on. I love talking to players, I love conversations with players, it’s my strong suit. I collaborate a lot, with front office, Mike, ownership, to get it right. I mean this sincerely: This is a big family, we’re all in this together, we all got to think alike, have the same ideas in order to really be successful, and I plan on bringing that and bringing everybody together as a whole.
“The ultimate goal is to win that championship, to bring a world title to the city of Washington and the fans, who deserve it.”
Martinez and the Cubs, of course, beat the Nationals in the NLDS in October, but it gave the new skipper an idea of what to expect from fans in D.C.
“When I came here for the playoffs, this place was electric,” Martinez said. “From the opposing side it was very — my hair stood up to see how the fans were, all the red, I was jacked up about it. So, now to be on this side, and they cheer for me and our team, it’s going to be pretty cool.”
Rizzo talked about what he thought of Martinez while following him over the years before they made the decision to make him the Nationals’ manager, after having previously interviewed him when there were openings on the bench in Washington.
“We talked to him four years ago and we didn’t give him the job and this time he was — and I told this to Davey when we talked to him the second time — I flew to Tampa and we had a great day together in Tampa, and I told him, I said, ‘You’re — in my humble opinion — you’re much more prepared to be the manager right now than you were four years ago.’ A World Series championship ring on his finger, deep into the playoffs in each of the last three years, taking a greater leadership role each and every time that I was around the Chicago Cubs and seeing how he handled things there, taking his communication skills to another level.
“Now it’s not just a young, up-and-coming team, you’re talking about having to deal with stars, the Bryants, the Rizzos, the Lackeys, and the Lesters, so he’s got that, and I think the most impressive thing about it is I’ve been doing this a long time, I know a lot of people, and couldn’t find one person to say a negative word about his character, and to me that’s what it was all about.”
Martinez, who has played with great teammates and played for some great managers in his career, talked about what he took from them and what he’s going to apply in his new role that he learned on the way up.
“The one thing that I’ve known and that I’ve learned from the best managers is to stay positive,” he said. “I mean, that’s — for me, that’s the key. Not every day we’re going to be successful on the field, but we’ve got to figure out ways how to stay positive and move on to the next day.”
When Rizzo and the Nationals announced Martinez was the pick for their managerial opening, he said the new skipper was, “... progressive, someone who can connect with and communicate well with our players, and someone who embraces the analytical side of the game.”
Martinez was asked today how he’ll incorporate data and analytics as a manager.
“It’s a huge part of the game today,” he said.
“The more information that we can gather, the better prepared we’re going to be. I like to use it a lot. My coaching staff will use it. As far as giving it to players, for me you’ve got to be awfully careful how much information they get, and I get it.
“Like Mike said, I’ve got a little bit of old school, with a lot of new school. This game is still played on the diamond, on dirt, on grass, with the bat, with the baseball, with the glove. We’ve done it. These guys have done it since they were little. I do believe in that, but it helps me make decisions like before the game or with lineups, and with other things, how we’re going to do things. Like I said, it’s a big part of the game, why not use it? The information is there, we should all use it.”
The goal, Rizzo said recently, is to take the next step and win a World Series after four NL East titles in the last six seasons and four NLDS losses. So how will Martinez work to get the Nationals to the next level?
“First and foremost, I never let the pressure exceed the pleasures of the game,” he said.
“So, for me it’s just keeping it fun, staying in the moment, in high-leverage situations try to teach the players how to slow everything down. The game kind of gets quick in moments, and as a bench coach and as a manager, I’ll try to really emphasize on just slowing everything down, just let the game come to you, you guys have done it all year long, it’s no different. My message, from here on out is to play the last game of the World Series and win. And that’s all we’re going to concentrate on, that’s all we’re going to worry about and how do we do that? By winning one more game each day.”