Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez started his third Zoom press conference of Spring Training 2.0 with some unfortunate, but not totally unexpected news given what’s been happening around the majors as MLB tries to get things going for a 2020 campaign.
“Per MLB’s intake testing,” Martinez said, “we’ve had two guys test positive with COVID-19, out of 60.”
Martinez clarified that the two positive tests were from players who have not yet been at Nationals Park since everyone returned to the nation’s capital last Wednesday for testing and the start of workouts last Friday, and needed to test negative before they came back into the ballpark.
“Everybody assumed that everybody that got in got tested on Wednesday. That wasn’t the case for us,” the manager explained. “We’ve still got guys out there that came in late, and we’re still waiting on the results. I think being this [4th of July] weekend, things were a little tough because it was a holiday weekend, so hopefully we’ll get all these results tomorrow, and guys will start trickling in and get ready to work out.”
In a separate Zoom call before Martinez’s, Nationals’ reliever Sean Doolittle expressed some concerns about the time it’s taken to get results, and the fact that they haven’t yet received PPEs they were promised, but the manager said he thinks everybody is doing the best they can to provide gloves, N-95 masks, and quick-turnaround testing.
“So far — obviously this is all new for everybody,” Martinez said, “so obviously as the old guys know, we’ve hit some bumpy roads, so, but they’re doing the best they can, I know they are, and they’re working on cleaning everything up.
“We’re in a very, very different situation. No one has ever done this before, so I know they’re working out all the bugs.
“With that being said, hopefully this upcoming week we get tested like they said and we get the results back right away and they clean all these things up.”
Martinez said that Doolittle wasn’t the only one who has expressed concerns.
“It’s not just him,” the manager acknowledged. “It’s quite a few. Me, myself, sometimes the uncertainty is that we don’t know. I try to tell myself every day, just take care what you can take care of and control the controllables, and go out there and try to be positive and win your day. But there’s a lot of things right now that we don’t know, and obviously we just got in, trying to play baseball, but I do have a very good feeling that MLB is doing everything they can, the players are doing everything they can to stay safe, cause it is definitely a different situation that we’re in.”
Martinez, himself, had health (heart-related) issues late last season, and said he considered the fact that he was high risk going into this process.
“As we all know, I’m definitely at a little bit of a risk, but I’m doing everything I can to stay healthy,” he said.
“I wash my hands 47 times a day. I wear my mask everywhere. I leave here with gloves on.
“I’m going to do everything I can to stay healthy, and the biggest part of that is not to get anybody else sick in case I do come up with it. I don’t want to get anybody sick. I worry about that more than worry about me getting sick. So you know, I just want to make sure that I’m healthy, and everybody else stays healthy.”
Hearing the news that two of his players have tested positive was a blow for the manager.
“It definitely hurts,” Martinez said. “One, you think about the player. Two, right away, you think about their families, if they have kids, and hope that they’re all okay.”
With opt-outs, and positive tests around the league, how important is it that MLB get this all straightened out and running smoothly quickly, to allay any fears players have expressed.
“It’s definitely a concern,” Martinez told reporters.
“I know they’re working out all the bugs, and they’ve been trying to get these tests turned over fairly quickly, and that’s all we can ask.
“As far as talking to the players, my biggest thing is when we leave the ballpark, you’ve still got to do everything right. We’ve got to set the example.
“I go to the ballpark, I go home, and I sleep, and I come back to the ballpark. Right now, for me, that’s the safest thing.
“I don’t want to get sick, and I think the players understand that it’s not just about them, but it’s about their teammates, their family, the coaching staff, everybody.
“We’re in this for everybody. Hopefully they’re doing the right things. I can’t put eyes on them when they leave the ballpark, but I think these guys understand what we’re all facing.
“They want to work and they don’t want to get sick.”
What, if any, reaction did the other players have to the news that two of their teammates have tested positive?
“Obviously they all know,” he said. “We’re talking about a bunch of guys that are very close. They understand the situation. We just got to stay, like I said, we’ve got to stay positive. We’ve got to do everything right to keep everybody safe. And for the most part, like I said, in here, we’ve social distanced, we’ve done everything as good as possible to keep everybody safe. For me, I just hope that this is it and we can get through this and everybody stays healthy.”
Martinez was asked if the positive tests for the two (unnamed players) changed his thinking about the whole process of getting baseball back up and running in the hope that they can pull off a 60-game season.
“[GM Mike Rizzo], myself and a bunch of other people, we put together basically a 60-man roster that we felt like, hey, if somebody does happen to go down, that we have somebody to step up and bring them out, and they can fill the void,” Martinez said.
“All I could do is think about today, and right now, like I’ve said, we’ve had two guys test positive, hopefully no one else gets it, and we move forward from there.
“The good news is, the guys that are out here and performing and getting ready for a season, they’re all good. They’re all healthy, they look good. I watched some guys throw bullpens today, and they’ve followed everything we’ve asked them to do throughout this layoff. There’s guys that are throwing, they look ready, they’re in shape.
“I was messing around with [Kurt] Suzuki today. And I kind of told him, I said, ‘Man, you probably got three or four more years in you, you look good. You’re bouncing around.’”
“He says, ‘Let’s get through the 60 games first and we’ll go from there.’ But I’m going to stay as positive as I can, and hope that we have all our guys when we break camp, and we’re ready to go.”