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Davey Martinez on message for 2019 Washington Nationals: “Just one more.”

Davey Martinez talked at Winterfest and the Winter Meetings this month about how things will be different for the Nationals in Spring Training and the 2019 campaign.

MLB: Winter Meetings Daniel Clark-USA TODAY Sports

Things are going to be different for the Washington Nationals in Davey Martinez’s second Spring Training as manager. So ... no camels?

Martinez talked earlier this month about where the focus is going to be when players arrive in West Palm Beach, FL and start over again following a disappointing, 82-80, second-place finish in the NL East last season.

“We’re going to do the little things,” Martinez said when asked what he and his coaches and players will be stressing this Spring during the Nationals’ Winterfest event.

“As you know, guys want to hit, hit, hit, hit, hit. There’s going to be days where they’re not going to bring the bats out. We’re just going to work on fundamentals. They don’t need to hit that much, we hit a lot, they hit a lot, and they’re going to hit a lot. But there [are] going to be days where we just work on defense, going to be days that we work on baserunning, and just do the little things. Bunting.

MLB: Winter Meetings Daniel Clark-USA TODAY Sports

“We need to get better at all that stuff. And the pitchers are going to be more involved in that too. Bunting, the hand on the bat, running the bases, because it can help. I talked to some of the pitchers about that, and they’re all jacked up about that, so it will definitely be fun, but we’re going to work on the little things.”

Martinez is going to have a younger, hopefully more athletic roster, and he said he plans to push the envelope more than he did in his first year.

“Especially with fundamentals,” he said. “We talked about it already, the baserunning has got to get better. Not making outs on the bases. Fundamentally sound. Turning double plays. Being more aggressive on defense. Whether we’ve got to shift more, shift less. We’re looking at all that stuff. But we’re definitely going to push the envelope, especially in Spring Training. I’ve already told the guys at the end of last year, Spring Training will be a lot different. We’ve got a lot of work to do.

“We’re getting younger, but we’ve got to learn how to play the game. I’m not talking about individual play. I’m talking about team baseball. And we’ve got to learn how to play together. We saw a little bit of it last year, but we need to do it consistently, so that’s our emphasis going into Spring Training is just learning how to play team baseball and playing together, helping each other out.”

Is the roster GM Mike Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office are assembling going to be more suited to playing the aggressive, fundamentally sound, team game that Martinez says he wants to see?

“If you look at our roster and you look at our players, we’re very talented, we really are,” Martinez said.

“We’ve got arguably the best third baseman in the game [in Anthony Rendon], we really do.

“Our up-and-coming shortstop in Trea [Turner], he’s only going to get better. [Juan] Soto now. [Victor] Robles. [Adam] Eaton being fully healthy. [Ryan Zimmerman] being healthy. We’ve got two good catchers now [Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes]. You have [Max] Scherzer coming back. [Stephen Strasburg] is healthy. So it’s just a matter now of putting it together, like the whole team. We can do that. Like I said, we saw signs of it all last year, then all of a sudden something happens whether a guy gets hurt and we almost had to start over again, and I know it wore on these guys, I really do, so hopefully those injuries are behind us and we move forward and we play baseball like we’re capable of playing.”

Knowing the players as well as he does, and having everyone comfortable with one another, with the coaching staff returning in tact, will help make things easier as well.

“I built a relationship with all of them that they understand — towards the end of the year they understood really what we need to do,” Martinez explained, “and they’re looking forward to getting to Spring Training.”

In hindsight, and before putting it behind them for good, what went wrong in 2018?

“Some of the things were the defense not being able to turn double plays and those things,” the skipper said when he spoke at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.

“We’ve really got to get better at that. And the other thing is we look back at our pitching, our pitching was pretty good. But 0-2 strikes, we led the league in giving up homers. We’ve got to clean that up. That can’t happen. Especially with the pitching staff we have. And we’re going to get better at that. We’re going to be more convicted on how to get outs with two strikes and not give up so many home runs.”

A motto, or easily digestible message he’ll have for his players this time out?

“I’ll just throw it out -- Just one more, one more, one more of everything: One more strikeout, one more stolen base, one more walk, things like that. If we can do that consistently we’re going to win a lot of ballgames, we really are.”

“I’ll just throw it out -- Just one more, one more, one more of everything: One more strikeout, one more stolen base, one more walk, things like that. If we can do that consistently we’re going to win a lot of ballgames, we really are.”

While the Nationals have loaded up and made moves early this offseason, with relievers Kyle Barraclough and Trevor Rosenthal, Suzuki, Gomes, Patrick Corbin, and Matt Adams added to the mix, and more moves likely to come (especially in the rotation) their rivals in the NL East have loaded up too, in what’s likely to be a competitive division for at least four teams.

How will what Martinez has seen from the rest of the division affect his approach to 2019?

“It’s about competing every day, being ready to compete,” Martinez told reporters. “Using information. Preparing every day. And compete. Don’t take anything lightly. Like I said, do the little things. We’ve got to do the little things consistently better. And if we can do that, the talent is there. We all see that. We all know that. We’ve just got to do little things.”

[ed. note - “Bryce Harper. We didn’t mention Bryce Harper anywhere in this article... until now. He still hasn’t signed anywhere though, so, you know, he could still return, right?”]