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Winter Meetings interview with Dave Martinez

MLB.com

Q. What's the last month been like for you and what was kind of putting your staff together like?

DAVE MARTINEZ: Well, it's been busy. I started building relationships with all the players through phone calls and texting, and really looking forward to working with all of them. Great bunch of guys. They're very excited. So it's been fun.

We talked about a bunch of different things. I know when Max had a baby, we talked about that. And Rendon getting married, and being excited about that. And I wished him good luck. It's been fun.

The coaching staff, I really feel like we got a great coaching staff. A lot of guys that I wanted, a lot of guys that were on our list. Mike and I put a list together and we got the guys that we really wanted, the guys that we thought would fit, not just for me but for the players and the organization and they're really looking forward to it. We brought them all down to West Palm Beach already and got together and kind of just picked each other's brains and got to communicate a little bit and start building that relationship.

Q. What players have you been able to meet with in person so far and what are you trying to establish in those initial meetings?

DAVE MARTINEZ: So from here I leave Thursday to go to Washington, and we got our Winter Fest, so I'll meet all the players then. But our communications over the phone, to me, is really important to build that relationship and start getting to know these guys and what makes them tick and let them know that, hey, I'm there not only to be your manager, but to help you in any way I can. And it's good to know that they're open-minded, they want to win and they also want somebody that can believe in them, and I'm here for them.

Q. Have you talked to Bryce?

DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, I talked to Bryce.

Q. How did that go?

DAVE MARTINEZ: Awesome. I'm looking forward to working with him and everybody else. He's one of the best players in the game, no doubt. So he's really excited and all these guys want to win.

Q. Since you took the job, what's the best piece of advice you've gotten and who gave it to you?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Best piece of advice I got was from Joe, obviously, and he told me just to be myself. He says, "You know what you're doing. You've been doing this next to me for a lot of years and just go have fun with it."

Q. What would be the couple things that you took away from being around Joe so much that you might use?

DAVE MARTINEZ: One is to be yourself and two is to don't be afraid to try things, as you know. And we have done some things that people thought were a little wacky, but have been really successful at it.

So hey, I'm not going to try to come in and try to change anything. Joe and I work good together. I believe in a lot of things that he does. I will tweak some things, but we have been successful, so I want to continue to do some of the things that we have done.

Q. Can you talk about the role of the manager and how that maybe has changed just over the last few years from being less strategic now and more taking some of the information you're getting from above and establishing relationships where you can apply it below in a way that players will respond to?

DAVE MARTINEZ: So for me my job as a manager is to get information, I love information, and use it, but use it in a correct way. Don't just give me something and not explain it to me. I need to know how to present it to the coaches and have the coaches present it to the players. As a bench coach prior, I thought my job was to help players understand what the information that was given them and not just throw it at them, because a lot of times they don't know what they're trying to do, what they're trying to accomplish.

So I think with all the information out there, information is great. It really is, and I love it and my coaching staff is going to love it. We talked a lot about it already and it's just the way we apply it on an every day -- use it every day.

Q. So instead of just getting a packet from the analytics department, are you going to have regular meetings with from the GM on down and say, okay, I know you want me to do this, give me the explanation, so we can talk it through?

DAVE MARTINEZ: No doubt about it. I love information, but I need to know why. If you're going to give me something, tell me why we're going to benefit from it and how I can present it to the club.

Q. You've always been known as a guy who is in the clubhouse a lot and interacts with the players. Do you feel anything like that has to change now that you're in a manager's role?

DAVE MARTINEZ: Not at all. I'm very hands on. 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. For me personally it helps me and I love to be engaged with them and find out what's going on, and whether it's baseball related or not, but I want to know and I want that particular player to be the best every day.

Q. With the Cubs it seemed like from the outside you and Joe and everyone had embraced the pressure. What have you learned about how to handle that and how does that apply to this team?

DAVE MARTINEZ: You said it, embrace it. We don't permit the pressure to exceed the pleasures of the game. We try to teach our players, hey, just have fun. They have been doing it since they were kids. Just go out there, be yourself and have fun doing it.



Q. The roster you kind of inherited obviously has a lot of strengths in general, but is there anything that you see particularly that you kind of need this off-season that you guys want to address?

DAVE MARTINEZ: There's some things that we're looking at, some possibilities. Right now on paper we're pretty solid all the way around. But there's always, if you can better your team and your organization, then there's always things you can do.

Q. (Inaudible.)

DAVE MARTINEZ: For me, my job is to take whatever players we get and build that relationship so they can play consistently on the field. I got to get these guys to compete every day at the highest level. That's my job, that's the coaches' job, we got pretty good people right now sitting in the room, gathering information about players and what our needs are and how well they fit in our organization.

Q. (Inaudible question about Adam Eaton).

DAVE MARTINEZ: Right now the biggest thing is getting him completely healthy. He's biting at the bit, he hasn't played in a while, and it's so funny, I talked to him and he said, "I'll be ready to go in Spring Training." And said, "Hey, hold on a second. I need you to be ready to go Opening Day."

So we'll take baby steps to get him good baseball ready and then we'll go from there. But if he is healthy, of course, he's going to lead off and probably play left field.

Q. You come into a job knowing that there has been a lot of turnover here and there with managers over the years. How did that factor in, as you were maybe interviewing for this job? Is that something you even thought about or how did that come about in your mind?

DAVE MARTINEZ: I don't really think about it. I think about what I can do to help this organization win the championship moving forward. I think in itself we have had some really good managers and good friends of mine but moving forward I'm just more worried about what I can do to help this organization win.

Q. You had some opportunities before, obviously when Joe left with the Rays, but do you think that those would have been the right timing or does this one feel like the right timing?

DAVE MARTINEZ: I really believe that this feels right. On one hand 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'm going to, I can't wait to get there. I'm excited to get to Spring Training and start.

Q. This sounds like a job that you wanted to interview for a couple times. Has it kind of hit you yet that? When did it settle in for you?

DAVE MARTINEZ: Oh, it hit me. But like I said, I'm excited and focused on getting to Spring Training and getting on that field with all the players together and start building what we believe to be a championship season.

Q. You talked about the healthy Eaton leading off, have you given consideration to what the lineup might look like?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, (Laughing). We got to keep some things a secret, you know.

Q. No, you don't.

DAVE MARTINEZ: Hey, all I can say is that we got a lot of unbelievable good athletes that can do a multiple of things. So you may see some different lineups out there, but you look from up to down, the lineup is really solid. So we'll play with it a little bit in Spring Training and see what we can come up with.

Q. Do you prefer a set lineup or are you the kind of manager that likes to jockey things around on play the day?

DAVE MARTINEZ: What I like is to utilize all 25 guys on the roster. I mean, I think it's important that the role players get a chance to play as well. So you'll see a lot of that. I think this day and age rest is important for some of your star players, so they're going to get their rest.

Q. You spoke to Daniel Murphy and do you know how he's doing?

DAVE MARTINEZ: He's doing well. His rehab is on schedule and I'm looking forward to getting him in Spring Training and actually getting him back on the field and see where we're at.

Q. Do you think he'll be ready for Spring Training?

DAVE MARTINEZ: I don't know necessarily if he'll be ready. As of right now history his rehab is right on schedule, so we'll have to take it by ear.

Q. Your first year of managing could be Bryce Harper's last with the Nationals. What do you think that dynamic is going to be like? Are you going to be lobbying for him from the first day to consider staying or what's that going to be like?

DAVE MARTINEZ: Can I lobby right now?

Q. Go for it.

DAVE MARTINEZ: Hey, I can't wait to work with him and I hope we get to work together for a lot of years. 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.

Q. You saw a lot of Matt Wieters in Tampa Bay in his prime. Didn't have a particularly good year last year. Have you had a chance to talk to him? And what are your thoughts of getting him become to where he was?

DAVE MARTINEZ: We definitely had a conversation with him and what I do know is that our pitching staff loves to throw to him. He's a great communicator, he's a leader, I know he had some injuries that he dealt with last year a little bit, and I'm looking forward to him being healthy and leading our pitching staff. And we have talked a lot about him being a little older maybe getting some more days off just to keep him healthy throughout the whole year.

Q. You haven't got to see the players yet, you have to see them on the field to say, but the internal options that you have for starting pitchers beyond those four established guys, what do you know about them and what's your comfort level with them versus maybe being able it look outside?

DAVE MARTINEZ: We got some pretty good arms, that I do know. I've seen videos of some of the younger players pitching and they're ready to compete. That fifth starting job is open and I can't wait to go out to watch them pitch competitively and see where they're at. But I think with them we have to we have qualified guys that can fill that fifth starter role.

Q. What do you think the dynamic is going to be like initially with the players (inaudible.)

DAVE MARTINEZ: You know, thus far, through conversation the players are excited, as am I. We got a chance to do something special in 2018, and but we got to focus on the here and the now and they get that. So we got to compete every day at the highest level.

I'm going to communicate with those guys every day, let them know that, hey, we are here for them, and go from there. But I think they're ready to win, they want to win, I know the fans are ready for us to win, and one thing that stood out last year Game 5, I stepped out of the dugout and I see 50-thousand plus fans with all red on screaming. That was pretty impressive. So I know the fans are hungry for a winner and this year hopefully we give it to them.

Q. You talked about change, but do you see Madson as an 8th inning guy (inaudible)?

DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, sure, those two guys are going to be in the back end of the order. There will be some days when Doolittle will have to get a day off and Madson will probably close out a game and so forth. So but those two guys will definitely will have people -- look, for me, I got seven guys down there, sometimes eight depending how we set the roster, each one of those guys has a job to do, whether it's the 5th, 6th or 7th inning, their job is to close out that inning. And that's what we'll be preaching on a regular basis and I know that if we get through those innings, that the back end is pretty solid.

Q. What does it feel for you to be another Latino manager? And how does that shape your approach?

DAVE MARTINEZ: It's wonderful. There's a lot of opportunity there for a lot of other Latin-speaking coaches and future players, but for me I really believe that I was hired on merit, and what I've done over the years as a player and as a coach and I'm looking forward to managing for many, many years.

Q. How does it feel not totally official now, but Stanton is no longer in your division, I assume that's something that lightens your load a little bit mentally?

DAVE MARTINEZ: For sure (laughing). Yankees got a good player. Unfortunately we got to play them this year, but hey, he's a tremendous athlete and I wish him all the best. I'm just glad that we don't have to see him in our division.

Q. What's the last month been like for you and what was kind of putting your staff together like?

DAVE MARTINEZ: Well, it's been busy. I started building relationships with all the players through phone calls and texting, and really looking forward to working with all of them. Great bunch of guys. They're very excited. So it's been fun.

We talked about a bunch of different things. I know when Max had a baby, we talked about that. And Rendon getting married, and being excited about that. And I wished him good luck. It's been fun.

The coaching staff, I really feel like we got a great coaching staff. A lot of guys that I wanted, a lot of guys that were on our list. Mike and I put a list together and we got the guys that we really wanted, the guys that we thought would fit, not just for me but for the players and the organization and they're really looking forward to it. We brought them all down to West Palm Beach already and got together and kind of just picked each other's brains and got to communicate a little bit and start building that relationship.

Q. What players have you been able to meet with in person so far and what are you trying to establish in those initial meetings?

DAVE MARTINEZ: So from here I leave Thursday to go to Washington, and we got our Winter Fest, so I'll meet all the players then. But our communications over the phone, to me, is really important to build that relationship and start getting to know these guys and what makes them tick and let them know that, hey, I'm there not only to be your manager, but to help you in any way I can. And it's good to know that they're open-minded, they want to win and they also want somebody that can believe in them, and I'm here for them.

Q. Have you talked to Bryce?

DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, I talked to Bryce.

Q. How did that go?

DAVE MARTINEZ: Awesome. I'm looking forward to working with him and everybody else. He's one of the best players in the game, no doubt. So he's really excited and all these guys want to win.

Q. Since you took the job, what's the best piece of advice you've gotten and who gave it to you?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Best piece of advice I got was from Joe, obviously, and he told me just to be myself. He says, "You know what you're doing. You've been doing this next to me for a lot of years and just go have fun with it."

Q. What would be the couple things that you took away from being around Joe so much that you might use?

DAVE MARTINEZ: One is to be yourself and two is to don't be afraid to try things, as you know. And we have done some things that people thought were a little wacky, but have been really successful at it.

So hey, I'm not going to try to come in and try to change anything. Joe and I work good together. I believe in a lot of things that he does. I will tweak some things, but we have been successful, so I want to continue to do some of the things that we have done.

Q. Can you talk about the role of the manager and how that maybe has changed just over the last few years from being less strategic now and more taking some of the information you're getting from above and establishing relationships where you can apply it below in a way that players will respond to?

DAVE MARTINEZ: So for me my job as a manager is to get information, I love information, and use it, but use it in a correct way. Don't just give me something and not explain it to me. I need to know how to present it to the coaches and have the coaches present it to the players. As a bench coach prior, I thought my job was to help players understand what the information that was given them and not just throw it at them, because a lot of times they don't know what they're trying to do, what they're trying to accomplish.

So I think with all the information out there, information is great. It really is, and I love it and my coaching staff is going to love it. We talked a lot about it already and it's just the way we apply it on an every day -- use it every day.

Q. So instead of just getting a packet from the analytics department, are you going to have regular meetings with from the GM on down and say, okay, I know you want me to do this, give me the explanation, so we can talk it through?

DAVE MARTINEZ: No doubt about it. I love information, but I need to know why. If you're going to give me something, tell me why we're going to benefit from it and how I can present it to the club.

Q. You've always been known as a guy who is in the clubhouse a lot and interacts with the players. Do you feel anything like that has to change now that you're in a manager's role?

DAVE MARTINEZ: Not at all. I'm very hands on. 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. For me personally it helps me and I love to be engaged with them and find out what's going on, and whether it's baseball related or not, but I want to know and I want that particular player to be the best every day.

Q. With the Cubs it seemed like from the outside you and Joe and everyone had embraced the pressure. What have you learned about how to handle that and how does that apply to this team?

DAVE MARTINEZ: You said it, embrace it. We don't permit the pressure to exceed the pleasures of the game. We try to teach our players, hey, just have fun. They have been doing it since they were kids. Just go out there, be yourself and have fun doing it.

Video: Nationals manager Dave Martinez on Joe Maddon

Q. The roster you kind of inherited obviously has a lot of strengths in general, but is there anything that you see particularly that you kind of need this off-season that you guys want to address?

DAVE MARTINEZ: There's some things that we're looking at, some possibilities. Right now on paper we're pretty solid all the way around. But there's always, if you can better your team and your organization, then there's always things you can do.

Q. (Inaudible.)

DAVE MARTINEZ: For me, my job is to take whatever players we get and build that relationship so they can play consistently on the field. I got to get these guys to compete every day at the highest level. That's my job, that's the coaches' job, we got pretty good people right now sitting in the room, gathering information about players and what our needs are and how well they fit in our organization.

Q. (Inaudible question about Adam Eaton).

DAVE MARTINEZ: Right now the biggest thing is getting him completely healthy. He's biting at the bit, he hasn't played in a while, and it's so funny, I talked to him and he said, "I'll be ready to go in Spring Training." And said, "Hey, hold on a second. I need you to be ready to go Opening Day."

So we'll take baby steps to get him good baseball ready and then we'll go from there. But if he is healthy, of course, he's going to lead off and probably play left field.

Q. You come into a job knowing that there has been a lot of turnover here and there with managers over the years. How did that factor in, as you were maybe interviewing for this job? Is that something you even thought about or how did that come about in your mind?

DAVE MARTINEZ: I don't really think about it. I think about what I can do to help this organization win the championship moving forward. I think in itself we have had some really good managers and good friends of mine but moving forward I'm just more worried about what I can do to help this organization win.

Q. You had some opportunities before, obviously when Joe left with the Rays, but do you think that those would have been the right timing or does this one feel like the right timing?

DAVE MARTINEZ: I really believe that this feels right. On one hand 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'm going to, I can't wait to get there. I'm excited to get to Spring Training and start.

Q. This sounds like a job that you wanted to interview for a couple times. Has it kind of hit you yet that? When did it settle in for you?

DAVE MARTINEZ: Oh, it hit me. But like I said, I'm excited and focused on getting to Spring Training and getting on that field with all the players together and start building what we believe to be a championship season.

Q. You talked about the healthy Eaton leading off, have you given consideration to what the lineup might look like?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, (Laughing). We got to keep some things a secret, you know.

Q. No, you don't.

DAVE MARTINEZ: Hey, all I can say is that we got a lot of unbelievable good athletes that can do a multiple of things. So you may see some different lineups out there, but you look from up to down, the lineup is really solid. So we'll play with it a little bit in Spring Training and see what we can come up with.

Q. Do you prefer a set lineup or are you the kind of manager that likes to jockey things around on play the day?

DAVE MARTINEZ: What I like is to utilize all 25 guys on the roster. I mean, I think it's important that the role players get a chance to play as well. So you'll see a lot of that. I think this day and age rest is important for some of your star players, so they're going to get their rest.

Q. You spoke to Daniel Murphy and do you know how he's doing?

DAVE MARTINEZ: He's doing well. His rehab is on schedule and I'm looking forward to getting him in Spring Training and actually getting him back on the field and see where we're at.

Q. Do you think he'll be ready for Spring Training?

DAVE MARTINEZ: I don't know necessarily if he'll be ready. As of right now history his rehab is right on schedule, so we'll have to take it by ear.

Q. Your first year of managing could be Bryce Harper's last with the Nationals. What do you think that dynamic is going to be like? Are you going to be lobbying for him from the first day to consider staying or what's that going to be like?

DAVE MARTINEZ: Can I lobby right now?

Q. Go for it.

DAVE MARTINEZ: Hey, I can't wait to work with him and I hope we get to work together for a lot of years. 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.

Q. You saw a lot of Matt Wieters in Tampa Bay in his prime. Didn't have a particularly good year last year. Have you had a chance to talk to him? And what are your thoughts of getting him become to where he was?

DAVE MARTINEZ: We definitely had a conversation with him and what I do know is that our pitching staff loves to throw to him. He's a great communicator, he's a leader, I know he had some injuries that he dealt with last year a little bit, and I'm looking forward to him being healthy and leading our pitching staff. And we have talked a lot about him being a little older maybe getting some more days off just to keep him healthy throughout the whole year.

Q. You haven't got to see the players yet, you have to see them on the field to say, but the internal options that you have for starting pitchers beyond those four established guys, what do you know about them and what's your comfort level with them versus maybe being able it look outside?

DAVE MARTINEZ: We got some pretty good arms, that I do know. I've seen videos of some of the younger players pitching and they're ready to compete. That fifth starting job is open and I can't wait to go out to watch them pitch competitively and see where they're at. But I think with them we have to we have qualified guys that can fill that fifth starter role.

Q. What do you think the dynamic is going to be like initially with the players (inaudible.)

DAVE MARTINEZ: You know, thus far, through conversation the players are excited, as am I. We got a chance to do something special in 2018, and but we got to focus on the here and the now and they get that. So we got to compete every day at the highest level.

I'm going to communicate with those guys every day, let them know that, hey, we are here for them, and go from there. But I think they're ready to win, they want to win, I know the fans are ready for us to win, and one thing that stood out last year Game 5, I stepped out of the dugout and I see 50-thousand plus fans with all red on screaming. That was pretty impressive. So I know the fans are hungry for a winner and this year hopefully we give it to them.

Q. You talked about change, but do you see Madson as an 8th inning guy (inaudible)?

DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, sure, those two guys are going to be in the back end of the order. There will be some days when Doolittle will have to get a day off and Madson will probably close out a game and so forth. So but those two guys will definitely will have people -- look, for me, I got seven guys down there, sometimes eight depending how we set the roster, each one of those guys has a job to do, whether it's the 5th, 6th or 7th inning, their job is to close out that inning. And that's what we'll be preaching on a regular basis and I know that if we get through those innings, that the back end is pretty solid.

Q. What does it feel for you to be another Latino manager? And how does that shape your approach?

DAVE MARTINEZ: It's wonderful. There's a lot of opportunity there for a lot of other Latin-speaking coaches and future players, but for me I really believe that I was hired on merit, and what I've done over the years as a player and as a coach and I'm looking forward to managing for many, many years.

Q. How does it feel not totally official now, but Stanton is no longer in your division, I assume that's something that lightens your load a little bit mentally?

DAVE MARTINEZ: For sure (laughing). Yankees got a good player. Unfortunately we got to play them this year, but hey, he's a tremendous athlete and I wish him all the best. I'm just glad that we don't have to see him in our division.

Washington Nationals