Dave Martinez was launched as Nationals supervisor Thursday. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
The Nationals’ fourth supervisor in six seasons made his Washington debut Thursday afternoon. He pulled on a purple fitted cap, buttoned a newly stitched dwelling jersey, joked and spun, exhibiting off the outfit as the 2 males earlier than him had.
For Dave Martinez, the Nationals’ newest try at a long-term supervisor, every thing is new and contemporary and hopeful. For the Nationals, days like these have grow to be a clumsy behavior, a lot in order that General Manager Mike Rizzo joked in regards to the rapidity with which they employed Martinez.
“We’re good at it,” Rizzo mentioned. “… We’ve had a lot of practice.”
Thursday’s introduction was completely different than the others. This time, the sphere at Nationals Park was torn up, dug all the way down to the dust whereas staff enhance its drainage, an unintentional badogy for the state of the franchise as an entire — not in want of a complete transform, however definitely in want of a dig into the lingering leaks.
This time, the information convention was held within the Nationals’ clubhouse, as a substitute of the information convention room — apparently as a result of it allowed for extra space. Instead of sashaying across the stage like his predecessor Dusty Baker, Martinez walked out from behind a black curtain, unbaduming and seemingly a bit uncomfortable. In 10 years as a bench coach, Martinez seemingly by no means needed to subject as many questions, in such speedy succession, as he did over practically a half-hour Thursday. In the course of that half-hour, Martinez appeared to emerge one way or the other, to shed awkwardness and reveal glimpses of the character those that know him at all times thought would make him a great supervisor sometime.
“I think the most impressive thing about it is I’ve been doing this a long time. I know a lot of people,” Rizzo mentioned. “I couldn’t find one person to say a negative word about his character. To me, that was what it was all about.”
Martinez discovered beneath Joe Maddon for 10 years, formally as his bench coach with the Rays and Cubs. Lately, Maddon instructed Rizzo, Martinez had been much more — “a co-manager,” he instructed him.
“The only thing ‘first time’ about Davey [is that] he’s never had the title ‘manager,’ ” Rizzo mentioned. “He’s been managing games for [a decade] standing next to one of the best and brightest guys in any dugout.”
Rizzo interviewed Martinez 4 years in the past, too. He remembered Martinez speaking so much about what he and Maddon did, and fewer about what he, himself, may convey to a company. This time, Rizzo mentioned, Martinez appeared extra sure of himself and his personal concepts. The 53-year-old shared a few of them — comparable to Sunday Fundays throughout spring coaching that embrace household breakfasts, or ensuring the music performs even after losses — as he described his as-yet unproven fashion.
“The one thing I’ve known and I’ve learned from the best managers, it’s to stay positive. For me, that’s the key,” Martinez mentioned. “… I think positivity and a lot of energy. Let them know that we care, even when they have a bad game and not a good game, let them know that we always care about them. You’ll get the most out of every player.”
Martinez performed for 16 seasons, and has a repute as a confidant for gamers — a coach able to being one of many guys, however keen to separate himself from them when conditions name for sterner stances. His predecessors, Baker and Matt Williams, spent little time within the clubhouse. Martinez mentioned he plans to spend little time in his workplace, preferring to be out and about with the gamers, as a substitute.
While Baker got here with a long time of managerial clout, Martinez doesn’t. Though Williams’s first season went simply fantastic, his second succumbed to inside doubts about his means to deal with the place, with veteran gamers questioning his decision-making and the tradition he fostered. Rookie managers should set up themselves with any roster, however this Nationals roster is especially skilled, opinionated and cohesive — loaded with stars comparable to Max Scherzer, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman. A rookie supervisor named Dusty Baker as soon as received over Martinez and led his Giants to 103 wins in 1993. The key?
“Building relationships. Communicating. Trust. Those are three things I’ve kind of instilled myself with. Let them know that I’m on their side,” Martinez mentioned. “This is a partnership between all of us. They’ll know that right away. As soon as this day’s over, my job is to get on the phone and get to know all the players.”
Martinez spoke to Sean Doolittle at Nationals Park Thursday morning. The Tampa resident is flying to Arizona to take part in Max Scherzer’s charity occasion this weekend and get to know the incumbent, post-Jayson Werth clubhouse chief. Those relationships will seemingly matter greater than selections this season, which the Nationals enter with practically the identical staff they’d in 2017, and a greater beginning bullpen base.
But Martinez just isn’t a one-and-done sort decide, like Baker might need been had he received a title, or like a extra veteran supervisor might need been. Instead, he’s a developmental challenge, a second try to search out somebody who can do what Williams couldn’t and develop up with a company — grow to be a type of managerial staples.
The Nationals usually don’t give their managers long-term offers — even Baker’s two-year deal represented an extended dedication than they’ve given among the different males to carry the place. They gave Martinez three years with an possibility, a dedication that Rizzo recognized as not solely “market value,” however essential to the well being of the franchise.
“We did not go back and forth on [the length]. It was something that I felt was important for this manager at this stage of our franchise, that it needed to happen,” Rizzo mentioned. “… We talk about these ‘windows.’ We see the window wide open for a long time to come. And we think this is the right guy to take us in that direction.”
The Nationals thought they’d that man earlier than. Their historical past tempers any optimism. But Thursday, Rizzo and the remainder expressed hope that in Martinez, they lastly have him now.
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