LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The best piece of advice Dave Martinez said he has received since becoming the Nationals' manager came from Joe Maddon, which is no surprise considering Martinez spent a decade learning from Maddon while serving as his bench coach."He told me just to be myself," Martinez
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The best piece of advice Dave Martinez said he has received since becoming the Nationals' manager came from Joe Maddon, which is no surprise considering Martinez spent a decade learning from Maddon while serving as his bench coach.
"He told me just to be myself," Martinez said on Monday afternoon in his first news conference since being introduced as Nats skipper last month. "He says, 'You know what you're doing. You've been doing this next to me for a lot of years. Just go have fun with it.'"
It's been a whirlwind of a month for Martinez, a month that has included helping with the hiring process for his new coaching staff and preparing to take over a team with World Series aspirations. He has spent the time trying to build relationships with his players, reaching out through text messages and phone calls. He has spoken to most of his roster, including Max Scherzer after the birth of his first child, Anthony Rendon after his wedding and an excited Adam Eaton, whom he described as champing at the bit and ready to get back on the field.
Martinez has also spoken to Bryce Harper, and he took the opportunity on Monday to lobby for Harper -- who is in the final season of his contract -- to remain in Washington.
"I can't wait to work with him, and I hope we get to work together for a lot of years," Martinez said. "He's a tremendous player. Of course, anybody would want him on their team, but as of right now, he's a Washington National, and I'm looking forward to him being at Spring Training and working together."
After the Winter Meetings, Martinez will head to Washington for the Nationals WinterFest, which will be his first chance to meet with the players face-to-face.
Communicating with players was one of Martinez's strong suits as a bench coach and something the Nationals credited him for when they hired him, saying that he was able to deal with the 25th man on the roster as well as the star players. In Washington he will be looking to win over a veteran clubhouse.
"I'm very hands on," Martinez said. "One thing I won't do is micromanage my coaching staff; they're going to coach. Like I said, I picked a really good coaching staff, they have been around the game a long time. They have all played the game, so I think that I'm going to let them just do their job, but I'm going to communicate with the players on a daily basis.
"You're going to see me walking around the field a lot, behind the batting cages. It helps me, and I love to be engaged with them and find out what's going on. Whether it's baseball-related or not, I want to know, and I want that particular player to be the best every day."
After years of interviewing for managerial jobs and coming up short, Martinez is finally getting his shot at leading his own team, a fact that hit him during the past month.
"I really believe that this feels right," he said. "I feel lucky to be part of such an unbelievable organization and a winning organization, so I think that this is the moment. I'm going to embrace this moment, and ... I can't wait to get there. I'm excited to get to Spring Training and start."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.