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Martinez talks baseball with youth players

MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Dave Martinez gained perspective from visiting a youth baseball league and fielding questions from children on Saturday as part of the Nationals' PLAY BALL Weekend.

"Some of the questions they asked were pretty interesting," Martinez said. "One kid says to me, 'How long did you play center field for in the Major Leagues?' I said about nine years. He like flipped out, 'Nine years! Nine years?' But nine years, he kept saying it. I'm like, 'OK.'"

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WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Dave Martinez gained perspective from visiting a youth baseball league and fielding questions from children on Saturday as part of the Nationals' PLAY BALL Weekend.

"Some of the questions they asked were pretty interesting," Martinez said. "One kid says to me, 'How long did you play center field for in the Major Leagues?' I said about nine years. He like flipped out, 'Nine years! Nine years?' But nine years, he kept saying it. I'm like, 'OK.'"

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Another one of Martinez's favorite moments came when a kid was scared to ask him a question, so in a whisper the child asked who was the best player Martinez played with. Martinez answered Barry Bonds, his Giants teammate from 1993-94.

Martinez was one of the Nationals members to give back to youngsters during PLAY BALL Weekend, a league-wide effort by every MLB club and Minor League Baseball to engage young baseball and softball fans and commemorate the continued support of youth participation.

Throughout the weekend, Nationals players wore PLAY BALL T-shirts pregame for batting practice.

The Nationals provided two complimentary tickets to every player who finished the spring season in a league that participates in the Nationals Uniform Program. Leagues that qualified were the D.C. Little League, D.C. Parks and Recreation Rookie League, Virginia District 4 Little League, Virginia District 10 Little League and Virginia District 7 Cal Ripken Babe Ruth.

Fans 12 years old and younger also received pitch-grip training baseballs from the team as they exited Nationals Park following Washington's 5-3 loss to the Phillies on Saturday. One of the Nationals' youth baseball visits was cancelled Saturday because of rain.

Ryan Zimmerman was among a group of Nationals players who also visited eight youth baseball fields around the Washington area on Saturday to chat with children.

Kyle Melnick is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington.

Washington Nationals