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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on Max Scherzer rumors; Dealing with trade rumors; Staying in the fight...

Highlights from Davey Martinez’s pregame Zoom call with reporters on Monday...

Max Scherzer Rumors:

Heard any good Max Scherzer rumors? Early on Monday afternoon, Washington Post writer Jesse Dougherty reported on Twitter that the 37-year-old (as of today, Happy Birthday, Max!) right-hander, “... according to those w/ knowledge of the situation ... doesn’t plan to use his 10-5 rights to veto a trade to remain in Washington. He’s open to moving. That said, he could use them to influence his destination if WSH has multiple offers on the table,” and if you’re out there reading all the latest chatter, there will be plenty of suitors if the Nationals actually go through with trading the three-time Cy Young winner before the July 30th trade deadline, as he plays out the final year of his 7-year/$210M deal with the team.

Or they could, you know, extend him instead and let the future Hall of Famer finish out his career in the nation’s capital. Or trade him and then re-sign him in free agency. Or ... not.

Scherzer missed a start this past weekend with what the team described as mild discomfort in his right tricep, but he and the team expect he’ll be able to take his next turn in the club’s rotation in Thursday afternoon’s series finale with the Philadelphia Phillies in Citizens Bank Park.

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Davey Martine talked to reporters before the opener in CBP on Monday about what he saw from Scherzer in a bullpen session in the Phillies’ home.

“He threw the ball well,” the manager said, “but he likes that recovery period. So, I talked to him after, so he said in a few hours he’ll know more or less how he feels.

“But he likes to take that grace period and recover,” Martinez reiterated, “but the ball came out really well, he threw well, and felt good.”

And it’s Scherzer we’re talking about, so the fourth-year skipper said he didn’t worry at all that the rumors would distract the 14-year veteran in what could be his final start with the club he helped to the first World Series championship by a D.C.-based team since 1924 in 2019.

“I really believe that, yeah, he just wants to compete,” Martinez said.

“And as far as he’s concerned he’s competing for us on Thursday and that’s what he worries about.”

About All Those Other Trade Rumors:

Following the third straight loss in Baltimore this past weekend (and fourth straight overall), Davey Martinez told reporters he thought the pressure of the pending trade deadline, and the rumors surrounding players on the scuffling club, were getting to his team and possibly distracting them from the task at hand.

“This is a tough time of the year for players, I can tell you,” Martinez acknowledged.

“Everyone is worried about getting traded, everybody is hearing rumors. We need to focus on staying present, that’s what we need to do.”

Asked specifically if he thought that his team was affected by the chatter, Martinez said he didn’t know.

“I don’t know, I know I’ve been on teams where it has affected guys. But you know we just got focus on the here and now,” he said.

“Look, there’s been a lot of teams that have been down 9.0 games in their division, and a lot of teams that have come back and won their division, so not by any means, I can tell you, are we going to quit, I can tell you that right now, so we just got to focus, on like I said, forget about this weekend, this week, and go get them tomorrow. That’s all we can do.”

Did he deliver the message directly to the team? That they need to stay focused on the here and now?

“Yeah, absolutely, and that message stands firm,” Martinez said.

“I want them to focus on today. Nobody knows what’s going to happen an hour from now, nevertheless tomorrow, or the next day. So we got a game to play today and we want to go 1-0 today against the Phillies, so let’s just focus on the here and now and go 1-0 today.”

The 16-year veteran, who was traded five times in his playing career, does know what he’s talking about, though he didn’t have to deal with social media and the 24-hour-ish blanket coverage of the game that exists today when he was a player.

“For me, whenever I heard my name come up via trade,” Martinez explained, “other teams wanting me and everything, I thought it was a good thing, you know.

Dave Martinez

“I really thought, other teams want me, I’m a pretty good player, and there’s other teams out there that want me. But the focus is always to do the best you can for the team that you’re playing with, and then if it happens, then it turns to be the relationships you build with your teammates, and trying to build new relationships with the teammates you’re going to meet for the first time, then that becomes a little bit difficult, a little stressful.

“It was stressful for me because I was so close to the players that I played with, I was always engaged on the teams that I played for.”

‘You never get over that initial shock until you get to that next destination,” Martinez said, “... and then once you put that uniform on, you know what you’ve got to do, and that’s go out there and perform and play baseball and help your new team win.”

How do players these days deal with the business side of the game?

“It’s tough, every player is different,” Martinez said.

“What I try to do is tell them, ‘Hey, you can only control the controllables, that’s it, and that’s by you going out there and playing the way you’re capable of playing and just having fun.

“You can’t focus on what might happen and what could happen as far as the business side of the game. As a player, you can control what you can do and that’s to help your team win.”

STAY IN THE FIGHT or Something:

With four straight losses overall heading into last night’s game, and 15 losses in 20 games in July (after a 19-9 month of June), the Nationals found themselves 8.0 games out in the East before the start of play on Monday, and 11.0 games out in the Wild Card race, but as he said above, there’s no quit in the Nats’ skipper or his team, so going into the first of four with the Phillies in Citizens Bank, Martinez said he wanted the club to keep fighting.

With their chances of making the postseason down to 1.6% according to Fangraphs before the fifth straight loss, will the team start playing better in their pressure-free-ish situation?

“We talk about it all the time,” Martinez said. “Sometimes and I tell them, right now less is more, don’t try to supersede what your abilities tell you that you can do, and just go out there and just do what you can do and everybody needs to do that and everybody needs to do their part, and once we do that, and you said it, we start doing that, we relax, and things start happening, things start going our way, so I don’t want these guys to put extra pressure on themselves, especially this time of year.

Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

“Let’s just go have fun, and I spoke to a lot of guys yesterday about, ‘Hey, I’ve seen a lot of games in my life, I’ve seen a lot of pennant races, and not by any means are we out of it.

“I mean, I’ve seen teams come from 11.0 games behind, 14.0 games behind, and end up winning the division, so keep pushing, because anything can happen. Just keep pushing, keep playing baseball, let’s just go out there and have fun and do the little things.”

Is that a hard thing to do when you find yourself in the position the Nationals are in right now?

“I’ve been through it, I’ve been with teams that have been through some difficult times,” the skipper said, “[and] ended up coming back and having something special happen to us. As you know, in ‘19 we went through that, so, but also other teams, as a player, and it’s tough, it’s tough to stay in that daily grind and focus on the here and now, but right now the most important thing is to focus on the here and now, and just worry about winning today.”