Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked before the second game of the season Friday afternoon about what he’ll be looking for over the next few weeks as the revamped roster tries to get the season going on a positive note.
“I think our expectation is to be a professional, play hard, and play the game the right way and there’s not much beyond wins and losses, that’s what this thing is all about, that’s how we’re all judged, and expectation is to go out and win every day,” Rizzo said before the second of three straight losses to start the year.
With fewer young faces coming north with the team, with Carter Kieboom injured this spring and Luis García optioned to Triple-A, the team has more of a veteran-bent than some might have expected at the start of Spring Training, so how does the general manager in D.C. see the club that’s starting the season?
“We had three short weeks in Spring Training and we’re just starting the season right now, so we’re going to see where we’re at, but we like the mix of the team and the attitude and the work that these guys have put in has been great,” Rizzo said.
“Injuries had a lot to do with some of those moves also, so we’re here to win baseball games at the major league level, but we’re also here to develop for the future,” he added.
Manager Davey Martinez talked before the season opener about how he would evaluate the talent on the major league roster over the first few weeks, whether it’s the young players on the roster or the veterans.
“For me it’s about sticking to the process,” Martinez explained, “and just watching them go out there and compete. We’re going to have to do things a little differently this year in the way we go about things, so but it’s all about teaching every day. I talk to my coaches every single day about, ‘Hey, don’t forget where we’re at with some of these guys, and we’ve got to teach every single day and every moment.’ I’ve always told my coaches, ‘Hey, we’ve got to treat these guys like they’re from Mars, and they don’t know nothing about the game,’ and that’s how I learned, when I was playing, and guys were constantly — coaches were constantly on me, constantly teaching and reminding me of different things.
“Sometimes it gets annoying as a player to hear the same things over and over, but you get it instilled in your head, and I can sit down and go back now and say, this is what I learned, and this is what I’m going to teach, and these guys so far, you know, we’ve got a new coaching staff, and they’ve been spot-on.
His message for his coaches going into the season?
“Just focus on the here and now. They’ve all been in this game a long time, all of those guys, so stay focused on the here and now and stick to our process and we’ll get through it. And I feel, like I said, I feel strongly about my coaching staff that at any given moment any one of those guys could be managers, they really can, so I’m proud of what they’ve done and what they’re going to do.”
What they need to do now, is avoid a fourth straight loss to start the season, and avoid a season-opening sweep at the hands of the New York Mets.