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Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez on learning to speak Spanish

While we’re waiting for Game 4 of the World Series, a brief distraction with a story from Davey Martinez on how he had to learn to speak Spanish.

2019 World Series Workout Day Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Born to parents of Puerto Rican descent in Brooklyn, NY, Washington Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez grew up speaking English, and didn’t learn to speak Spanish until after a tough experience when he was drafted and sent to Puerto Rico to play Winter Ball by the Chicago Cubs.

“So my grandmother, who only spoke Spanish, I could understand it really well,” Martinez explained when he spoke to reporters before Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night.

“I knew the basics to talk to her,” the 55-year-old, second-year manager explained.

“I got drafted as a native player in Puerto Rico, both my parents were born there. So I went there as a No. 1 pick in the draft back when I played. When I got there the cameras were on me and they started asking me questions in Spanish, I answered them in English.

“They weren’t very happy,” Martinez said with a laugh, but the reaction wasn’t funny.

“As a matter of fact, I got a six foot piece of barbed wire thrown at me in my first game I played,” he explained.

“So I took it upon myself after that to learn. And I told all my teammates, I remember Benito Santiago, those guys I played with over there, Juan Nieves, I said, ‘Hey, do not let me answer you in English.’ I said, ‘Make me, force me to speak Spanish.’ And spent two years over there.

“After the first year I came home, told my grandmother the same thing, I’ll never answer you in English again, I’ll always answer you in Spanish.”

“So I picked it up,” he continued.

“And after playing so many years and coaching with the Latin guys, I just told them, ‘Speak Spanish to me.’ Sometimes it doesn’t come out the way I want but I keep working on it.”

Nationals’ starter Aníbal Sanchez was asked before his start in Game 3 of the World Series how good Martinez’s Spanish is at this point?

“It’s good,” he said. “It’s really good. He’s got really good Spanish. He can communicate in that language perfectly. I think he can express better than in Spanish than I am in English.

“He’s really good. He’s really good. Dave, he’s special. He’s special.”