Saturday, June 6, 2020

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Washington Nationals will be ready for the start of the 2020 campaign when/if it all happens

Coming off a 2019 campaign in which he led the Washington Nationals to the first World Series championship by a D.C.-based team since 1924, Davey Martinez is headed into the final year of the 3-year/$2.8M deal he signed with the Nats in October of 2017.

There’s a club option included in that deal which will pay him $1.2M in 2021 though, so has there been any contract talk with the club with the baseball world on hold as everyone waits to see if there will be a season amidst the ongoing COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic?

Martinez was asked about his contract status in a Zoom conference call with reporters on Friday afternoon, which he dialed into from his 350 acre farm in Tennessee.

Have the two sides discussed contracts?

“Nothing. No,” Martinez said.

“Right now, I’m pretty much self-isolated here. I just want to make sure that we’re all healthy, and we stay healthy, and that somehow, some way there will be a 2020 season.”

Okay, well how about the third base situation in the nation’s capital? Is it going to be Carter Kieboom at the hot corner when/if the 2020 season actually starts?

Will the Nationals go with Asdrúbal Cabrera as a safe option until Kieboom is ready? Have they made any decision?

“No,” Martinez said. “Not yet.”

So… what about the proposition of playing out the 2020 campaign in empty stadiums, an idea that’s been bandied about as Major League Baseball tries to find some way to play a season once it’s safe? Will it be difficult to motivate players to play without a crowd to get them pumped up and cheer them on?

“I think the momentum comes from the guys competing,” Martinez told reporters.

“They still know they’ve got to go out there and compete. I think that’s motivation in itself.”

But, he acknowledged, “It’s going to be weird.”

Martinez was also asked how he will handle Spring Training 2.0, with recent reports which have suggested teams might just hold the second try at Spring Training in their own home park, which would limit the possibilities of what they could do with just one field as opposed to the multiple ones at most Spring facilities. How will the Nationals handle that?

“I honestly think that if that’s the case and that’s what we plan on doing, we talk about isolation, and people gathering — more than 10 people gathering at one place,” he said.

“With only one field, we may have to separate and make groups, you know, whether starting pitchers come in the morning, bullpen guys come another time, and then regular players some time in the afternoon. With one field it’s going to be hard to do.

“If we have to play scrimmage games, maybe using both dugouts, sitting guys in stands, all these things are going to have to come into play.

“This is all — having Spring Training in your hometown is all speculation right now.

“There’s no definitive [plan]. So when they come out and give us clarification on what we’re going to do, then we’ll go from there.”

While ramping everyone back up will be important after Spring Training 1.0 came to an abrupt end on March 12th, the pitchers, as always, will be the main concern as they try getting back to where they were after a couple weeks of bullpens, live bullpens, and a number of Grapefruit League games a month and a half back.

“We’re just going to have to see where they’re at when they come in,” Martinez said.

“Obviously if you talk to Max [Scherzer] he’ll be ready to pitch seven or eight innings. But you’ve got to be very careful.

“Regardless if it’s 80 games, 100 games, whatever we’re going to play, they’ve still got to prepare themselves to go out every five days, so we’ve got to be careful.”

“I’m very optimistic that we will have baseball,” he added, “so every day I wake up, I try to focus on where the guys are at right now, what we need to do to prepare for our season.”

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