Reacting To Shooting Outside Nationals Park:
Both Davey Martinez’s pregame Zoom call on Sunday, and Ryan Zimmerman’s post game after the completion of Saturday night’s suspended game were taken up by questions on the shooting outside Nationals Park which led to chaos in the park and the suspension of the game.
Martinez was in the dugout and Zimmerman was coming off the field when the shots rang out and brought the game to a halt. What were their initial reactions?
“I heard the gunshots obviously right away,” Martinez explained. “I looked up above the third base dugout, where I thought the shots were coming from, and at that particular moment — I didn’t know what was going on, but I wanted to make sure everybody was safe. As things went on fairly quickly, I heard that it was outside the stadium, but like I said, everything happened so quickly, fans started getting a little bit frantic, which we don’t blame, so when a situation like that arises, you try to follow protocol, but honestly, protocol is to get to safety, and take care of your families and hope that everybody stays safe.”
“Once I heard the gunshots, my first reaction was to get all the guys inside and then just take it from there,” Martinez added. “I want to thank everybody that was involved that helped. Our security guys at that ballpark, one particular guy, Brian Sedgwick, who’s an MLB staffer, helped me get all the fans in safely in a place where we thought they could stay safe. He did a great job with that. Our security, MPD, firefighters, everybody that was involved yesterday, thank them all for doing the best they could to keep us safe.”
Zimmerman’s experience? He hit a 3-run home run in the game, but was walking off the field in the sixth, when he heard the shots.
“I kind of heard I’m assuming what everyone else heard on some of the recordings and things like that,” the 36-year-old, 16-year veteran said. “You hear a lot of different noises throughout the years, and obviously that was something that you’ve never really heard before, so you go into the dugout and you go in and you see kind of the people up in that third base kind of gate area starting to scatter and you don’t know what’s going on. So, not a good situation, but you know ... once you kind of learn what happened, it’s just good that it wasn’t in the park, so trying to take some positives out of obviously a tough situation.”
Zimmerman, as noted, was coming off the field at the end of the Padres’ half of the sixth and heard the gunfire pretty clearly.
“I was running off the field, we just got the third out, and I was just kind of slowly going off the field, so I was about I guess probably a few steps from going into the dugout, and you could hear the noises up by the third base gate. and then you kind of look up that way and see people scattering, and obviously you know what the noise was, I’ve heard firearms before, and when you can hear it that loud, you obviously, and rightly so, like the people up there, you wonder if it’s in the stadium, so thankfully it wasn’t, but yeah, you could hear it pretty clear.”
It was a scary situation for everyone involved, and multiple people were shot outside of the ballpark, but both Martinez and Zimmerman said they hoped it didn’t deter fans from trying to come back to the ballpark.
“I hope the fans understand that we were safe inside the ballpark,” Martinez said.
“Everything happened outside. Like I said, they did a great job inside the stadium, it was locked up fairly quickly, so I hope that the fans come back and the fans understand that hey, this happens everywhere.”
“Yeah, I mean, I think things like this happen on a daily basis in lots of cities,” Zimmerman said. “That’s a discussion for a different time I think, but you can’t live your life in fear is I guess the best way to put it. You take precautions, you take care of your family, but you come to watch baseball games. There’s been thousands of baseball games here and this has never happened before, so you know, I think you continue to live your life, you trust the people who put the policies and the safeguards in place to do what they’re supposed to do and more importantly I think you trust humanity to be good people. Unfortunately, these things happen, but you’ve got to keep living your life.”
A crowd of 33,232 showed up on Sunday to watch the Nationals walk off on the Padres.
“I think it means more to myself and the players knowing that the fans came back after yesterday,” Martinez said after the game, “and they were there, and they came to support us and it was huge, it was awesome. And like I said before, our players, they feed off of that and it was a good day for all Nats fans and for the Nationals.”
Speaking of Zimmerman:
Before the drama on and off the field in Saturday’s game, Martinez talked about the work that Josh Bell has been doing in left field since Kyle Schwarber injured his hamstring and went on the IL, and the possibility of having both Ryan Zimmerman and Bell in the lineup sometimes if Bell’s able to get comfortable out there.
It started with a discussion about how Schwarber was doing as he works his way back to the lineup.
“He’s actually — he can’t wait to come back,” Martinez said. “Being on the IL with an injury like that you do a lot of stuff, so he’s been doing a lot of stuff.
“He’s taking some swings — very light in the cage — but doing a lot of strengthening and building, he’s jogging, very lightly, but he’s progressing. But it’s going to take some time.”
As for the Bell in left questions, reporter saw him out there before the game again and asked how it was going.
“I’m assuming you guys saw Bell take fly balls today and work in left field, like I said, we’re going to continue to do that, get him comfortable out there, and it’s more sometimes — like late in games, we have to make some kind of move or something and we can get Zim in the game somehow, some way, that we can use him out there, but also too, against a good matchup, if we can get both of them in the lineup at the same time that would be awesome.
“So we’re going to continue to work with him out there. He’s getting better. He says he’s starting to feel a lot more comfortable than he did when he first went out there, so that’s good, if he can do that it gives us some options.”
What does he have to see from Bell to feel comfortable putting him out there in left, where he hasn’t played in the majors since his rookie campaign in 2016, when he played 16 games in right, along with 183 games in right field in the minors?
“I always talk about, when we get somebody that hasn’t done something for a long period of time, we try to — we call it like the 21-day fix,” Martinez said, “where if you do something for 21 straight days and you work on something, you seem to get a routine and get repetition and you feel good about it. So, we’re going to keep throwing him out there, keep seeing what he’s doing, not to say — where if we need him that he’s ready, but just by my conversations with him, he feels a lot better out there, he’s getting more comfortable. He’s starting to understand, we talked a lot about where to play against certain right-handed hitters, where to play against certain left-handed hitters, talking to him about his throwing, just charging the ball on the ground, all those little things that we want to work on and continue to get better at. But he’s working hard at it, and here’s a guy that when he comes up to me and says I’ll do whatever it takes to help the team win, that’s just a testament to not only him, but all these guys on this club.”