WASHINGTON — Only two Nationals players were even alive when manager Dave Martinez was selected by the Cubs in the 1983 MLB Draft, but that doesn’t mean he knows better than them.
Despite a lifetime in baseball that has landed him his first managerial role, Martinez is approaching his first Spring Training with almost no ego.
“For the most part, I’m dealing with veteran guys. The core guys have been here for many years now and they get it,” he told Grant and Danny, live from Spring Training on 106.7 The Fan. “This is a great situation, not only for me but for the young players coming up in here, to have such unbelievable veterans to have around.
“They’ve got a chance to learn a lot of different things and I tell them, ‘Hey, I’m here to learn too. I want to learn from you guys.’ Because they’re really good.”
Maybe that’s the honeymoon speaking, or maybe Martinez is ready to take the “players’ manager” tag to the next level.
It’s yet another reminder for Nationals fans that the Dusty Baker era is over in Washington. Call it old school vs. new school, but Martinez projects as a manager much more willing to accept input–either in the form of relationships or metrics.
“We’re gonna get better and that’s the key: we’re going to communicate, we have conversations and build relationships,” he continued. “I always tell them that this is not about me, nor will it ever be about me; it’s about us and how we’re going to get it done.”
That’s not to say that Martinez is a pure disciple of the new-fangled approach. As a baseball lifer, there are still traditional concepts that he holds dear.
“We’ll tinker around, especially later in the Spring and see what best suits this club,” he said of setting his batting order. “I’m from that old school too–if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“We’ll run some guys out there. If we keep winning, we’ll keep running them out there.”
Martinez also discussed his biggest concern: avoiding wear and tear injuries by leaning on a deep bench.
“My biggest thing is to make sure these guys get rest. That’s the key. Nowadays, guys don’t play 162 games. They don’t,” he said. “My philosophy is that we need them, but we also need them come October.
“These guys will definitely get rest. No matter how good they’re doing, they need to get that day off.”