Martinez returns to bench after hospitalization

September 21st, 2019

MIAMI -- As Nationals manager Dave Martinez walked around the visiting clubhouse at Marlins Park on Friday afternoon, his players greeted him with a warm reception.

What was once an everyday occurrence held deeper meaning for Martinez, who returned to the dugout for the Nationals' series opener against the Marlins for the first time since a health scare.

The 54-year-old Martinez had to leave during the Nationals' win on Sunday against the Braves due to chest pains. After being hospitalized, he underwent cardiac catheterization, which revealed he would not need any further procedures at the moment. Martinez returned home on Tuesday, but he was not immediately cleared to travel.

"I love being back. Much better being in the dugout, I can tell you that. It was a lot of fun,” Martinez said after Washington's 6-4 win. “Like I told them today, 'Look, this game is about having fun. It really is. Enjoy every minute of it.' Just watching these guys play every day and what they do and how they go about their business, they have a good time and they love to play the game, and you can tell they play for each other, which is nice."

Added Trea Turner: "Normal is the best word for it. You want that consistency throughout the year, and to have somebody that's a big part of this team even gone for a couple of days is not fun. I'm glad he's back, and we got a win for him. Let's keep it rolling and continue this into tomorrow."

Bench coach Chip Hale served as acting manager in Martinez's place, as the Nats lost two of three to the National League Central-leading Cardinals in St. Louis.

Hale kept things as close to normal as possible in Martinez’s absence, texting with him before the game and receiving the lineup. Following the game, the pair discussed what happened in the contest.

In his second year at the helm of the Nationals, Martinez has a 166-148 record, including 84-68 this season. His ballclub is one game ahead of the Brewers for the first NL Wild Card spot with 10 to go.

With high-stress games in the midst of a postseason chase, Martinez will do his best to take it easy.

"I'm going to be myself, I'm not going to be anything else, but I'm not going to drink any coffee," Martinez said. "I'm going to stick to water for a while. Like I said, I'm excited to get back out there and manage the games and watch our boys play."

Injury updates
• Catcher Kurt Suzuki, who has been sidelined since Sept. 7 with right elbow inflammation, threw from 60 feet on Friday for the first time. He had taken batting practice and caught a bullpen session earlier this week.

"We'll see how he feels tomorrow," Martinez said. "He can pinch-hit, which is nice. He'll be available to pinch-hit today, and we'll go from there."

• First baseman Matt Adams (sprained AC joint in left shoulder) took BP on the field on Friday as he continues to progress. He last appeared in a game on Sept. 12.

"We've got to be careful, too," Martinez said. "The diving stop around the base, that's how he hurt it the first time. We've got to be awfully careful with him."