Martinez: 'Jackie united our brotherhood'

August 28th, 2020

To commemorate Jackie Robinson Day, the Nationals and Red Sox on Friday announced that they would work together to raise money for the Jackie Robinson Foundation through their individual charities.

Nationals Philanthropies and The Red Sox Foundation will use their 50/50 Raffle to support The Jackie Robinson Foundation. In addition, the first 42 donors to Nationals Philanthropies will receive a commemorative “42” token of appreciation.

The Nationals also shared a recently recorded interview with Jackie’s daughter Sharon Robinson, vice chair of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, to discuss the organization’s work as well as her perspective on the fight for equality in the United States.

“He was the guy that united what we call our brotherhood,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said. “He means a lot to this game and to everybody in this country. We tip our hats to Jackie and his family. He went through a lot. We all know that. We’ll always respect him. Thank you for what you’ve done. You opened up the doors for a lot of us.”

After a couple of emotionally charged days, including the decision not to play a game against the Phillies on Thursday, Martinez said it was appropriate to play on Jackie Robinson Day.

“Special day today,” Martinez said. “I think us united on the baseball field would mean a lot to Jackie Robinson and his family. It’s what he would have wanted.”

Major League Baseball chose to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day on Aug. 28 for two reasons. It’s the anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, which the Robinson Family attended, and it also is the date in 1945 when Robinson and Branch Rickey met to discuss his future as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

In conjunction with the celebration, MLB announced a partnership extension with the JRF Scholarship Program, the Jackie Robinson Museum and the annual JRF ROBIE Awards. The extension is through 2023 and includes a $3.5 million commitment on behalf of MLB.

Martinez ended his pregame news conference by saying, “Hey, honestly, it's kind of nice to come out here and laugh. It's been a struggle. But it's nice to come out here and see everybody smiling. So thanks.”

His voice cracked a bit as he spoke those words. He understands that nothing is normal in the United States at the moment, and he emphasized that during a team meeting on Thursday. On the other hand, he said his guys want to get back to playing.

“We’re in a rough, rough deal right now,” he said he told his players. “We all get it, we understand. Be mindful, be respectful. Be respectful of all your teammates and other members of the organization.”

After recounting that meeting, Martinez said, “We’ll compete and have fun. That's all I can ask from these guys. I talked to a lot of ‘em. They just want to get going and play this out the rest of the year.”

Soto hits second
Juan Soto was back in the No. 2 hole in the lineup, with Adam Eaton moving to the sixth spot. Martinez has at times resisted hitting Soto second out of concern it would prevent leadoff man Trea Turner from attempting to steal bases. But the opportunity to get Soto, say, an additional at-bat or two per game outweighed the other issues.

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“I want to get some kind of production somewhere towards the middle and back end of our lineup,” Martinez said. “Adam is swinging the bat well. I wanted to get him back to get like a second rejuvenation of our lineup. And get Juan up in the No. 2 hole and maybe get him an extra at-bat.”

Roster additions
The Nationals added infielders Jackson Cluff and Drew Mendoza to their 60-man player pool. They’ve reported to the alternate training site in Fredericksburg, Va.