One of Davey Martinez’s messages for the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals early in Spring Training is not to worry about repeating as champs, but instead focus on repeating the process that took them from 19-31 in late May to the Wild Card all the way through the Fall Classic last season.
“When you win something and you become a champion of something, there’s a carryover,” Martinez explained on the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers in West Palm Beach, Florida’s FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on Thursday, “and with these guys here, I truly believe the fact that they’ve done it now, and they’ve got the taste, the taste is fresh still in their mouth, so they’re fired up. They’re anxious. For me, my worry is not to let them get too far ahead of themselves. Let’s just focus on the here and now, and we talked about that a little bit today. It’s just, hey, take care of today.”
Going 1-0 every day will be the goal once again, after it worked for Martinez and his club on the way to their win over the Houston Astros in the 115th World Series, but it all starts again in six-ish weeks.
“We’re not going to go out there and bang our heads and try to win 162 games,” Martinez added of the approach this Spring, “let’s just focus on today and get ready for the season.”
“That feeling is really motivating, because once you get a taste of that — playoff baseball, a World Series, a World Series championship — you just want more of it,” Sean Doolittle told reporters, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jessica Camerato on Thursday afternoon.
“And that becomes kind of a driving force behind your offseason workouts, and that’s your motivation. So it’s exciting to be back here, even if it was a little short.”
Stephen Strasburg, who ended up being named the World Series MVP, said earlier this winter that the expectation of a letdown following a championship victory fueled him during his offseason workouts.
“I think it’s funny, you go win the World Series and everybody starts to write you off for next year,” Strasburg said, after his new 7-year/$245M deal with the Nationals was announced, “... so I think that’s pouring gas on the fire for me and I think for a lot of other guys, so it’s really there’s no stopping us now. We’re going to go into next season like we did last year, and that was, ‘Finish the Fight,’ and, ‘Stay in the Fight.’
“All those things we kind of held onto during the season, those are things that we can control and those are things that we expect out of ourselves and the guy next to us.”
Martinez said on the first day of workouts yesterday that he wants his team to hold onto all of the lessons they learned on the way to the first MLB championship for a D.C.-based team since 1924.
“As we all know and they learned, being 19-31 and doing what we did, it’s never over. You’ve got to compete every single day. Understand that. We’re going to go 1-0 every day.
“With that mentality, that’s what got us a world championship.”
“I think it’s going to be a very fun and exciting year. And that’s one other message that I told them, I said, ‘Hey, let’s have fun. Let’s have that dance party again.’ They loved it. I loved it.
“So let’s keep it going.”
Martinez is heading into his third season in the nation’s capital, and the final season of the 3-year/$2.8M deal he signed in October of 2017, but he said yesterday that his focus is on the field and what he needs to do to get the club ready for the start of the 2020 campaign, not his own contract status.
“My job is to come here and get our players ready to play every day, and that’s all I’ve focused on,” Martinez told MLB.com.
“I’ve never worried about any of my contracts as a player, as a coach. I just come out here and try to do my job as best I can.
“That being said, I’ve had an unbelievable experience in D.C. Would I like to be here? Yeah, definitely. This organization’s definitely headed in the right direction, I see us competing for many, many championships in the years to come. I would love to stay here for more years than this year, but we’ll see how that plays out.”
GM Mike Rizzo is going into the final year of the 2-year/$8M deal he signed with the Nats in April of 2018 as well.
Will the Manager and General Manager who led the organization over those bumpy roads to a beautiful place last October be rewarded for their efforts at some point this season as the two of them try to repeat the success they experienced from late May on last time around?