Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

Nationals News

Higher expectations, same mindset for Nats in '20

@jessicacamerato
February 18, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- For as long as it takes to win a World Series championship, the time spent relishing in it is just a fraction. That “on to the next” attitude is prevalent throughout the Nationals' clubhouse this Spring Training and at the first full-squad workout on Tuesday.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- For as long as it takes to win a World Series championship, the time spent relishing in it is just a fraction. That “on to the next” attitude is prevalent throughout the Nationals' clubhouse this Spring Training and at the first full-squad workout on Tuesday.

“Process. Process. Process. Process,” manager Dave Martinez said. “For us, the word ‘repeat’ doesn’t mean anything except to repeat the process, focus on the process. What made us good in 2019. Who we are. That never goes away.”

The achievements of the 2019 squad are hard to ignore at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Commemorative signage has been hung inside and outside the facility. The team will be fitted for championship rings this week.

It’s not about acting as if the victorious seven-game World Series against the Astros never happened, though. It’s about not resting on laurels and avoiding complacency in the next season.

“We won, so talk about it,” Martinez relayed to the team Tuesday morning. “Pick a moment that stands out to you amongst your teammates and live it and feel it. It’s a good feeling. That should motivate people as you talk about it. Even guys that weren’t here, I’m sure they’d love to hear the stories about what transpired and how we do things and then go from there.”

The Nats dispersed throughout the training complex for pitching, batting and fielding drills. Martinez was able to get a good look at his entire squad as he went from field to field. The majority of players are back from last year, along with several veterans -- including reliever Will Harris and infielders Starlin Castro and Eric Thames -- who have been added to the roster.

“The way that Riz [general manager Mike Rizzo] constructed this year’s roster, it’s just really, really good,” Martinez said. “I think we answered a lot of questions we needed to answer coming off of last year, and we got the players we wanted and needed.”

Martinez believes depth is going to be a key to Washington’s success in 2020. The Nationals have options to pair players at multiple positions, like they did last season with catchers Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes. On Tuesday, they got their first look at the combination of Carter Kieboom and Asdrúbal Cabrera manning third. With staying healthy a priority, having a strong bench is valuable, too.

“It was fun to watch them work together,” Martinez said. “I know that [Starlin Castro] and Trea [Turner] are really going to work together and turn double plays and play it up the middle. You’ve got Carter Kieboom, young up-and-coming star at third base, and he looked good today along with Cabby. Then you’ve got three first baseman over there that all can hit and do special things. … You look at our bench, guys that come off the bench, it’s exciting to have those guys. You can plop them in to pinch hit any time.”

As Martinez observed the new opportunities the Nats have, he isn’t veering away from the outlook that got them to the point of entering the 2020 season as defending champions.

“The message for me doesn’t really change,” Martinez said. “It’s a different year but … It’s always clear to me and I live by it -- we’re going to go 1-0 every day and we’re going to compete at the highest level every day.”

Jessica Camerato covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacamerato, Facebook and Instagram.