Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez is ready for position players to report to West Palm Beach, FL today, and excited to get things going after a few days of watching pitchers throw bullpen sessions to start Spring Training.
“I’ve actually been excited since right after the new year, really,” Martinez told reporters at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on Sunday.
“Started gathering my thoughts and looking forward to seeing all the guys, and then all of a sudden you get here and you’re here, you’re excited, and after about two days of watching pitchers throw bullpens — let’s move on, I’m ready for everybody to get here. Yeah, I’m ready for the whole team to get here and start doing other things. A lot of these guys, they walk around — [Kurt] Suzuki always makes fun of me, ‘What do you do? You just stand there.’ I said, ‘Yep. Stand there and watch guys throw. And watch you.’ So, yeah, I’m really excited to see everybody. Talked to a lot of the boys this morning, they all started trickling in, they all look unbelievable.”
Pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training last week, but the rest of the club has to report today, though most of them trickled in over the weekend as Martinez said.
Now the defending World Series champs can get started on the defense of their title in earnest.
Though he’s talked to his club already, Martinez said he was waiting for the full roster to get to West Palm Beach before he addressed the team as a group.
“I’ve got a pretty good idea of what needs to be said and we need to talk about,” Martinez explained. “For me, it’s about the process. A lot of it will be about talking about just repeating the process and focusing on that. These guys — we’ve got a veteran team. They understand what transpires, they understand it’s a whole new year.”
“Right now their energy has been incredible, so I’m happy about that.”
After winning it all last October, and working their way through a shorter-than-usual winter, what will Martinez’s message be for the club as they get going in preparation for the 2020 campaign? And where will the focus be as the Nationals get back to work?
“I’ve been doing this as a coach and player and been with many managers, so for me it’s just about being true to me and being true to who I am, and sending that message that I want to send,” Martinez said.
“Obviously with winning the World Series, I’ve talked to some managers who have done that and who came in for the next year to do what we’re trying to accomplish and they all gave me some pretty good advice.”
Cool story from Davey: At the Winter Meetings, he hears someone call out, "Hey, kid!" He looks over and it's Joe Torre, seated with Tony LaRussa and Jim Leyland. They invited him to join them. He hesitated but did it. Got advice on how to approach the year after a championship.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) February 14, 2020
Bringing back a number of the players who helped the Nationals win the Fall Classic makes the process of preparing for the upcoming season that much easier since the players know what to expect from their manager and coaches and vice versa.
“I think that they understand what we’re trying to do again, and for me like I said, these guys — when you get guys like a Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, a Howie Kendrick, Juan Soto, [Victor] Robles, who — they love to play the game, they understand the game, I think you just go back. My biggest fear, which it’s not really a fear at all, but I don’t see it and I haven’t seen it yet, is complacency. I understand, and I keep telling them, ‘We’re really good, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t show up to play, but stay in the here and now, don’t jump to conclusions, don’t get ahead of ourselves, let’s focus on today.”
So, go 1-0 every day? Win your day? Stay in the Fight and then Finish the Fight? Etc.? Do Martinez’s mantras carry more weight now that his players have seen the approach he preaches pay off in the stunning reversal of fortunes following the 19-31 start to the 2019 campaign?
“I think what I found, especially with our group, is that they know me and they know that I am who I am and I’m not going to change no matter what,” the manager said.
“I mean, we can all go back and say, which I don’t like to think about, but we were 19-31 and I stayed pretty much even keel. Stayed positive. And I think they understand that now, and for me it’s just coming in and being who I am, and they understand that, they love it, and they know sometimes conversations don’t go the way you want them to go, but I’m going to tell the truth. They might not like what I have to say, but eventually I hope that they understand that we’ve got to have these conversations in order to get things right, and they appreciate that.”
Spring Training is, of course, a grind before the grind of the regular season, but the third-year skipper said everyone involved knows what they have to do as they prepare for their season opener and the 161 games that will follow.
“My biggest thing is just getting our work in,” Martinez said. “Individual work and group sessions for four days and cover what we need to cover, but we’ve still got all of Spring Training to get everything done. So, with that being said, I’ve talked to a lot of them, they all seem anxious and ready to go and of course they’re going to have to catch up to pitching a little bit, but that happens during the course of Spring Training.”