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Washington Nationals’ lineup for series opener with New York Mets in Citi Field

Davey Martinez’s club avoided a sweep with help from a tarp, and they have to move on and start their first road trip...

Washington Nationals Summer Workouts
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 07: Washington Nationals president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo talks with manager Dave Martinez during the Washington Nationals Summer Workouts.
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

You can try all you want, but Davey Martinez’s focus will always be on the game at hand, so when the Washington Nationals’ manager was asked after Sunday’s postponement of their series finale with the Baltimore Orioles in D.C., how he would approach the resumption this coming Friday in Oriole Park, the third-year skipper had already moved on tonight’s opener with the New York Mets in Citi Field.

“We’ve got to focus on tomorrow, obviously, we’ve got to play the New York Mets and worry about that first game of a four-game series,” Martinez said, “and then when we get to Friday, you kind of pick up where you left off, basically.

“So, you know, right now we’re in the top of the sixth, two guys on, one out, and they got [Pat] Valaika hitting.

“I got to worry about making a decision on pitching, who I want to bring in. Hopefully. We don’t know what the rule is yet — I think we might have an extra guy for the second game, which would be nice, so we’re waiting to find out what the protocol is for that.”

The Nationals will also confront the protocols of travel on the road amidst a pandemic on their first trip of the season after a long stay at home in Nationals Park.

In a normal season there are tremendous physical and mental demands on players who’ve got to travel the country while trying to stay healthy and sharp so they can compete at an elite level against other major leaguers. Is that all magnified this season?

“I think it’s important,” GM Mike Rizzo said on a Zoom call on Sunday afternoon. “It’s a new baseball season that we’ve never had before. There’s protocols in place that kind of break the routine that we’ve had our whole careers and lives. The team that adapts to that best and easiest and most seamlessly I think will have an advantage of being more comfortable playing baseball and then once the game starts, you’re playing baseball, I think that everyone kind of gets into their comfort zone at least for the three hours during the game.”

In spite of the defending World Series champions rough 4-7 start to the season, Rizzo said he remains confident that the roster they assembled will be there in the ended, competing for a second straight championship trophy.

Will they find a rhythm when they’re able to play every day, and has the on-and-off-and-on- again start to the 60-game season prevented the club from finding its rhythm thus far?

“Yeah, I think there are some reasons for it, they sound like excuses, so I’m not going to use them, but yeah, obviously the unevenness of the schedule doesn’t help with your routine, your rhythm either on the mound or at the plate, but we’re dealing with it like all the other 29 teams, so that’s nothing we can use as an excuse.

“We just have to play better baseball. I think our best days of baseball are ahead of us.”

Will they start to play better baseball today?