Washington Nationals’ pitchers and catchers report on February 12th, at which point the Dave Martinez era in the nation’s capital will feel like it has officially begun, even though he was hired back in November. Martinez and his staff, who have gathered in Florida to talk about how they will handle their first Spring Training together, will get to work on the defense of the Nationals’ back-to-back NL East crowns in earnest once they’re all in West Palm Beach.
After meeting with his players and the fans in the nation’s capital at WinterFest back in mid-December, Martinez said he got a good feel for what everyone is expecting in 2018.
“You can tell they want a winner and they want to close out the deal,” Martinez said of what he heard from the fan base. “Hopefully we can do that in 2018.”
The players, Martinez said, are excited as well.
“I’ve been meeting quite a few of them. I’m going to try to meet everyone that’s here.
“But had great conversations. They’re all itching to go, so I’m excited about Spring Training and getting out there and getting the boys together.”
New Nats’ bench coach Chip Hale said the meetings the new manager and his coaches have had have been helpful, but the real work begins when everyone gets to Florida.
“The real nuts and bolts of this thing will start in Spring Training, when you really get to dig in deep with the players and get to know them on a personal level better,” he explained.
Martinez’s first base coach, Tim Bogar, told reporters he’s been impressed with what he has seen from the Nationals’ organization from afar, and is excited about getting going now that he’s on the coaching staff.
“You come in and the whole organization is, from top to bottom, it seems like they’re very organized, they know what they’re doing,” Bogar said.
“They have unbelievable talent level, and it’s fun to around a group of guys that love scouting. They love scouting players, they love talking about players, and that’s what this game is all about, is players, so it’s a lot of fun to come in here and be part of it.”
The players are heading to Spring Training to get to know yet another new manager, and staff, and it’s... actually not all that different really.
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told MLB Network Radio hosts Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette this past Wednesday that a new manager in D.C. is nothing... new.
“The new manager and coaching staff is always exciting,” Rizzo said.
“We’re very experienced at it here with the Washington Nationals. So, Davey, what a great breath of fresh air he is. He brings the energy every day, every meeting, every time I talk to him on the phone.
“We’ve been in very, very close, constant contact throughout the offseason. He’s been here several times. He’s met with his staff personally on three different occasions.
“We’ve had three meetings outside of Washington, D.C. We were at West Palm with the whole staff, the analytical department and several of the scouts to kind of go over what we’re going to do in Spring Training, to map it out for him. We walked the fields with the staff. Davey has run Spring Training before, so has Chip Hale, so has Timmy Bogar, so we’ve got a lot of experience in that regard, and [returning third base coach] Bobby Henley has been here with the organization since we moved here, so he’s got great experience on how to run Spring Training. So Spring Training is going to be well-run.”
The staff Martinez and the Nationals assembled, Rizzo said, is a hard working and an opinionated group.
“They’re all young, energetic, we’ve got three guys on the staff that have managerial experience, and it’s a great, active group, and it’s not for the faint of heart, because if they have an opinion they voice it and they raise it, there [are] no shrinking violets in that room, that’s for sure.”