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Martinez honors late sports psychologist Ravizza

Glover to begin Minor League rehab stint; skipper details 'pen plans in Doolittle's absence
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

NEW YORK -- Dave Martinez hopped out from behind his desk in the visiting manager's office at Citi Field. He fell from his chair and spun, crawling with his back along the carpet floor. Looking up at the ceiling, he recounted a story as he demonstrated it.

It was from the same vantage point that Dr. Ken Ravizza, Martinez's longtime mental skills coach, colleague and friend, once resorted to to grab Martinez's attention. Ravizza had a rule about looking him in the eyes: only then could he help, as he'd helped so many athletes before his death last week at age 70. In the midst of "a rough day," Martinez kept looking down. So Ravizza scooted under him.

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NEW YORK -- Dave Martinez hopped out from behind his desk in the visiting manager's office at Citi Field. He fell from his chair and spun, crawling with his back along the carpet floor. Looking up at the ceiling, he recounted a story as he demonstrated it.

It was from the same vantage point that Dr. Ken Ravizza, Martinez's longtime mental skills coach, colleague and friend, once resorted to to grab Martinez's attention. Ravizza had a rule about looking him in the eyes: only then could he help, as he'd helped so many athletes before his death last week at age 70. In the midst of "a rough day," Martinez kept looking down. So Ravizza scooted under him.

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"'Hey, if I have to sit down here for you to look me in the eye. I'm going to do that,'" Martinez recalled Ravizza saying. "At that point, what are you going to do then [but talk]?"

Martinez retold the story Friday, an afternoon after he honored Ravizza on the field. Martinez inscribed Ravizza's initials -- KR -- on his hat during the Nationals' 5-4 win over the Mets on Thursday, and he will continue to do so "for as long as I possibly can," the manager said. The gesture was the most public of a sea of condolences that have poured in following the death of Ravizza, an innovative sports psyschologist who spent more than two decades in baseball.

Tweet from @KenRavizza1: Do you have a plan at the plate?https://t.co/8jBxMKit3o ������🎥 pic.twitter.com/i42yC6cAHM

"Having guys like that players can talk to, one on one, and it's confidential, it's very important for the players in this day and age. I'm proud to say I had one, and it was Kenny," Martinez said. "He touched a lot of people."

Martinez and Ravizza initially met through Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who ushered Ravizza into baseball in the mid-1980s when he was managing in the Angels' organization. Ravizza then worked under Maddon in Tampa Bay and Chicago, and alongside Martinez on both coaching staffs. They shared an office in Chicago, where Ravizza went to the floor for Martinez. But it was really Martinez who was looking up to him.

"I really believed he's a big part of why I'm managing today," Martinez said. "He's helped me throughout many different obstacles, as a player, as a young player, as a coach. He's helped me understand players. He was an unbelievable person and a greater friend."

From the trainer's room
Sidelined since Spring Training due to soreness in his throwing shoulder, Koda Glover is eyeing a step forward in his rehab. Glover will begin a rehab appearance at Class A Advanced Potomac -- in relief of Stephen Strasburg -- on Sunday night, Martinez confirmed. Glover's return is not imminent, though. The Nationals want him to simulate Spring Training while on assignment, which would require making at least eight or nine appearances. The hard-throwing righty had been recovering at the team's facility in West Palm Beach, Fla.

"The whole premise of him staying in Florida was to really get him honed down, ready, and to make sure when he gets back up here he stays here," Martinez said. "Make sure there are no injuries. Because he's had that problem."

Closer by committee
The Nationals only expect to be without closer Sean Doolittle for a handful of more games. He is expected back from a pinched nerve in his foot shortly after the All-Star break. But that doesn't preclude them from needing a late-inning strategy in his absence. Martinez previewed what that will be Thursday, when he deployed Kelvin Herrera in the eighth -- not the ninth -- before Ryan Madson closed.

Video: WSH@NYM: Madson induces a double play to notch save

Martinez felt Herrera, who has struggled with his control since being acquired from Kansas City, matched up better with the top of the Mets' order, which was due up in the eighth. He said he will continue to play matchups going forward, until Doolittle returns. Offering flexibility is the fact that Herrera, Madson and Brandon Kintzler all have closing experience. All have also been setup men.

"Tonight it could be Herrera in the ninth, or Kintzler or Madson in the eighth. Any of those three guys can close a game," Martinez said. "I try to match these guys up as well as possible. Doolittle is the closer, and he matches up well with everyone."

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

Washington Nationals