Don’t tell the Washington Nationals this is a reboot or rebuild season, in which they aren’t expected to be in the mix for a postseason berth in the expanded playoffs under the new CBA.
“We’re ready to compete,” Juan Soto told reporters when he spoke in advance of Thursday’s season opener with the NL East rival New York Mets.
“Those guys in [the Nationals’ clubhouse], they’re hungry to win, they want to win. I think this is not a rebuild team for me, just a team to come to the league to compete and we’re going to try as best as we can to be in the playoffs this year.”
Soto, 23, didn’t want to hear any talk of rebuilding this year so the club can compete for the postseason again in a couple years.
“This team is ready to go,” he said. “I think we have everything that we need to go to the playoffs. We’ve just got to give 100%, we just got to be healthy, and be out there every game. That’s the only things we’re going to need to be healthy and go out there and compete, but I think we have the right pieces to go out there and make it to the playoffs.”
GM Mike Rizzo and Co. in the front office put together a roster this winter they think will be able to compete, and Rizzo, who’s said he hates losing more than he likes winning, isn’t the kind of general manager who’s going to accept losses after a decade of competing, even if he knows competing this season would surprise a lot of folks around the game.
“We’ve got a good mix of some really young, up-and-coming prospects and some really good, grizzled veterans that are good, quality people,” Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies earlier this week.
“I think it’s a good mix of old and young, and I think we’re going to play an exciting brand of baseball, and you know, Davey Martinez’s teams, they leave it all on the field.
“Our expectations are to perform admirably, to win, and we’re — we want to be one of the twelve teams in the playoffs, and that’s what we’re looking to be, and we want to surprise people, we want to shock some people and get in the tournament, and once we’re in the tournament, you never know what happens.”
Martinez, informed some members of his club want nothing to do with the term “reboot”, and talk of rebuilding for the future versus competing today, said, “They sound like me.”
“It’s true,” he added.
“You don’t rebuild in the major leagues, you know, you compete every day at the highest level. There’s no rebuilding. And if you could look to see what Mike [Rizzo] and his group has done and what I’ve said that we needed to try to do. We’ve got a good core of veteran players with some young players that have the ability to do a lot of different things.”
Martinez was happy with the club’s work in Spring Training, and the roster they brought to D.C. for last night’s season opener.
“I’m excited about this group. I really am. We got some veterans in that clubhouse that have played in the playoff games, that have done a lot of different things, but one is I like them because they could be mentors to some of our young players, so I’m excited about that as well, but they get the message from Day 1. That’s, ‘Don’t listen to the noise on the outside. Focus on the things on the inside, and go out there and play hard,’ and that’s something that I know we’ll do every day.”