Davey Martinez is back to work; Final prep for West Palm Beach!

Photo by Marlene Koenig for TalkNats

We are one week and two days away from the official opening of the 2020 Spring Training camp. The offseason ends and the preseason begins. There should not be many unknowns on who makes the roster, but it will be an ongoing topic as always during Spring Training. Manager Dave Martinez of the Washington Nationals and his coaching staff will put the final touches on their plans. During the disappointing 2018 Spring Training, Martinez had camels on-site. For 2019, it was more subdued. How will the 2020 camp at the FITTEAM Ballpark at the Palm Beaches be this year? Few clues have been given.

One thing that Martinez said was that he wanted to go a little easier on the starting pitchers who pitched in the World Series. Other than that it might be business as usual. General manager Mike Rizzo does not want to see complacency.

“This whole World Series hangover thing is real,” Martinez said. “You can ask anybody. It is really out there. First and foremost, that word ‘repeat’ I’ll say it today, but I won’t say it anymore. To me, it’s about compete. We’re not going to repeat — we’re going to compete at the highest level, and go 1-0 every single day. My biggest thing is if you want to repeat something — let’s repeat the process. That is the goal. Let’s find how we got to where we are at. Let’s focus on the process.”

Martinez said he spoke to other managers and coaches who won championships to research what went right and what went wrong in the following season. He learned that there are hangovers after winning a championship. One of the first things Davey changed up was the roles of most of his coaches. Chip Hale will move from bench coach to third base coach and Bob Henley will move to the first base coach spot with Tim Bogar moved to the bench coach. In addition,Pat Roessler was added to the staff taking the spot vacated by Joe Dillon, who served as the Assistant Hitting Coach for Kevin Long. Dillon is now the Philadelphia Phillies new hitting coach this winter. Roessler, 59, was a hitting coach for the Montreal Expos (2000-2001), and he served as an Assistant Hitting Coach for Kevin Long with the New York Mets.

Pitching coach Paul Menhart and hitting coach Kevin Long will remain in their same roles, but having a new bench coach in Bogar, who was a finalist for the Mets managerial position, will be a different voice in Martinez’s ear with a fresh perspective. He doesn’t want things to get stagnant.

“For me, getting a different voice,” Martinez said. “I thought about this for many years after winning, and having been around for 10 years: Doing some different things, I think it would great for these guys, to see a different perspective of the game.”

Adding some new players to the roster like Eric Thames, Starlin Castro, and Will Harris should add a new look to the new team; however there was little change other than that. Most of the team is back because of Mike Rizzo’s ability to re-sign so many key parts of the 2019 championship roster. Ryan Zimmerman, Howie Kendrick, Asdrubal Cabrera, Daniel Hudson, Yan Gomes, and Stephen Strasburg were all inked to new deals. Additionally, Javy Guerra was brought back on a minor league deal. Noticeably missing are Gerardo Parra, Anthony Rendon, and Matt Adams. Only Rendon got a Major League deal, and Brian Dozier still remains unsigned.

There remains the possibility that a familiar face or two could be an early DFA in camp as Wilmer Difo, Adrian Sanchez, and Hunter Strickland are three players who are on non-guaranteed deals. The bench, the front of the bullpen, and the fifth starter spots are all up for grabs.

Baseball can quickly go from “feel good” to a closed door meeting and handing a player his walking papers. Even the future of Aaron Barrett is an unknown at this point. He could be seen last night in the World Series celebration that was part of a Budweiser commercial during the Super Bowl. While Barrett did not appear in any of the postseason games, the team made sure he felt like part of it, but he does not project right now to make the team.

“I’m just glad to be a part of it,” coach Bob Henley said. “If Davey asked me to park cars, I’d ask him: ‘Which lot, A or B?’ At the end of the day, I’m an assistant coach, and I’m asked to assist in whatever he wants me to do. I’m up for the challenge, and I’ll do it to the best of my ability for the sake of the team.”

The Nationals marketing department ran a well-produced video on social media last night after the Super Bowl ended. You will notice that #NATITUDE can be seen in the graphics. Clearly they have earned that moniker that drove opposing teams crazy. Jimmy Buffett once sang about “Changes in latitude” so why not some changes in natitude. It’s a thing.



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