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Washington Nationals’ skipper Dave Martinez on managing expectations

No pressure, Nationals. Just win a World Series or it’s all a big disappointment. How will Dave Martinez change things up in Washington?

MLB: Washington Nationals-Workouts Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Four division titles in the last six seasons. Four NLDS losses. What will it take to get the Washington Nationals over the so-called “hump”?

“We talk about this ‘hump,’ and for me, they’ve accomplished the hump,” new manager Dave Martinez said in a press conference from West Palm Beach, FL on Monday.

“My message to them is, ‘Hey, when we get there it’s just playing one more game. It will be game 163, 164, 165. We’re good enough to finish this out, and they know that, and we’ve just got to concentrate on the here and now.’”

In his role as the Chicago’s bench coach last season, Martinez had an up-close look at the Nats’ fourth NLDS loss in the last six seasons, which he, politely, chalked up to luck being on the Cubs’ side when he talked about the outcome earlier this winter.

What makes him think that the team he’s inheriting now has what it takes to win not only a Division Series, but a World Series? Having been there when the Cubs won it all, what is it he sees in the Nationals that makes him believe?

MLB: Washington Nationals-Workouts Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

“If you look at it, [GM] Mike [Rizzo] has done a great job. We have a well-rounded team,” Martinez explained.

“From starting pitching to our bullpen. I know last year at the beginning the bullpen struggled here and Mike went out and got some back end help.

“Our bullpen is healthy. We’ve got an unbelievable lineup with speed and power, so we can be creative and do a lot of different things, and you look at our role players, Howie [Kendrick], Matt Adams, [Wilmer] Difo, Goody [Brian Goodwin], the list goes on.

“We’ve got guys who can probably on an everyday basis, so I’m really excited to see these guys play, see them interact. Good group of guys, for the most part the core of the team has been together for a while, so they get it.

“From the beginning I told them, ‘I’m not here to change what the culture is, I’m just here to help you guys and understand you guys in any way I possibly can.’”

While he’s downplayed talk of the Nationals’ “window” to win it all with the current roster, in what could be the last season with Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, and others, Martinez knows there are big expectations for the team he’s now managing.

So how is he managing the expectations? How can he relieve the pressure on the players?

“We’ve kind of already established that we’re going to have some fun,” Martinez said.

“We’ve got music every day. I’ve got speakers on every field, they love the music, we had the Circle of Trust, which they absolutely loved.

“We’ll do a lot of different things to keep them motivated and keep them hungry, but at the end of the day, these guys came into camp with a lot of energy, and it’s keeping that energy going throughout the year.”

The roster is full of veterans, with some youthful energy as well, but Martinez, in getting to know his team, said he knows he can keep things loose and doesn’t necessarily have to be a strict disciplinarian.

“They’ve won,” he explained.

“They know how to win. People can say what they want, they’ve been in the playoffs. We had some young guys for the first time get to the playoffs, so they have that experience now. So, like I told you guys before, I don’t sleep making up lineups, it’s a lot of fun seeing the names that I get to write down, and I’m looking forward to getting them all together and letting them play.”