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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez and Mike Rizzo; an inferred reboot time frame + more...

Highlights from the Nationals’ media availability on Wednesday...

Reboot Time Frame Inferred:

It’s really no different from what he said after the sell-off at the 2021 Trade Deadline kicked off a reboot of the organization, but with the big league club struggling at the start of their process of building another contender, Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo was asked by 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies yesterday about a time frame for the enterprise and he offered an answer.

As he said last season, and has reiterated since, the model or blueprint for the reboot is the transformation the organization made between 2009 and 2012.

“You look at — just look at the history,” Rizzo told the Junkies. “We’ve done it before. Our front office has done this before. We took over in 2009 and we were a last place team, and then in 2012 we won 98 games, so you do the math. And see how long it takes. And that was from when MLB owned the team, right before that, and we’re in a way better place this reboot than we were at that time when we were rebooting, and it took us a few short years to win the most games in Major League Baseball.”

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images

“So, we think that we have the blueprint to do this thing. We have the knowledge and the front office staff to do it, we have the coaches and the managers in the big leagues and the minor leagues to do it, we’re all on the same page with ownership on down that this is the plan we had since the trade deadline last year, and I think that we’re accomplishing a lot of our goals, but the main goal is always to win at the big league level, and we’ve got to start playing a lot better to do that.”

Amen. Definitely on the needing to play a lot better part, for all of us still watching.

“We think we’re well on our way to putting together that core group of a championship-caliber club,” Rizzo added at another point.

Shake Things Up:

With the offense struggling, his team pressing, and the results just not there in three losses in a row, Davey Martinez decided to switch things up a bit before the finale in Miami, so the fifth-year skipper said no batting practice in loanDepot park, so everyone could rest up and prepare for what they hoped would be a sweep-avoiding win against a Marlins team they’d failed to beat in five games this season.

“They hit, man. They hit tons,” Martinez told reporters before the third of three with the Fish.

“They do so much work in the cage,” he added, “we’ve been taking 20 minutes of ground balls every day.

“Yeah, just kind of wanted them to kind of relax and get their work in the cage, and get ready for the game.”

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Asked if it’s something he might try more, Martinez said he’s done it before.

“We’ve done it. We do it every now and then,” he explained.

“We’re at the beginning of a road trip, third game in of a road trip, so give them a little breather, we got a day off tomorrow, so let’s try to go out there and exert our energy at 6:40.”

In other words, save it for the game, and see if that sparks something... and coincidentally, surely, the Nationals scored three on Marlins’ starter Pablo López, who started at 1.05 and ended his night with a 1.57 ERA, after the Nationals connected for four hits and took three walks to push his pitch count up to 82 after three.

Going Back to the Defense For A Minute:

We wrote a lot, or quoted Rizzo and Martinez talking about defense a lot really, but didn’t include this quote from the GM, who talked about how some of their former Gold Glove-winning infielders weren’t playing Gold Glove defense over the first two months, as their team as a whole has struggled defensively, with an MLB-leading 32 errors after Tuesday’s game. So, is defense the sort of thing where you can say the “back of the baseball card” thing and hope that some shaky defense evens out as the season goes along?

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

“Well, you would think so,” Rizzo said in his weekly visit with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies. “Now, the Gold Glovers at shortstop and second base, they’re older now, and they won their Gold Gloves a few years ago, but they’re competent fielders and defenders, and we just have to do better. We have to — I always say in the big leagues, double play balls have to be double plays, you have to get two outs on them, because if you don’t the other team makes you pay, and we just haven’t been doing it. We haven’t been performing, and defensively, again, it’s not lack of preparation or effort, these guys are putting their time in, I think it’s just they’re trying to do too much because we know it’s an issue and we’re grinding a little bit too hard and we just have to let it flow.

“The bottom line, and I’ve said it a million times, this isn’t a try hard league, and a work hard league, it’s a performance league, and we got to perform better, we have to pick the ball up better, because it’s really negatively impacting our pitching staff.”