Martinez aiming to keep Nats loose, have fun

First-year manager weighs in on his unique style in Q&A session

March 27th, 2018

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Music often blared from Dave Martinez's office this spring, even if the Nationals' manager was rarely inside when it did. Instead, Martinez could be found in the coaches' room. Or maybe he was sitting with reporters and chatting even after his media session ended. Or perhaps he was still on the field, helping run drills that put an emphasis on competition.
Anything he can do to stay out of the office.
"I don't like it, it's boring in here," Martinez said, laughing. "Like I said, my door is never closed. I don't want it closed. If I could take the door off, I would."
Martinez made an exception to sit down in his office with for a Q&A just before Spring Training ended with one final exhibition game Tuesday afternoon against the Twins ahead of Opening Day against the Reds, which was postponed until Friday due to impending inclement weather on Thursday in Cincinnati.
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He kept the decorations inside the room rather simple. His desk is littered with fan mail, of which he sits down to read and answer about 8-10 per day. Often he will have several tablets sitting atop his desk. On the floor next to his desk there was a large motor-scooter complete with a Bluetooth speaker, which gave to him after finding out Martinez sometimes preferred to bike to the park. Martinez kept four different bottles of wine behind him on his desk, four different brands of Pinot Noir, including an Opus One he is considering cracking open after Opening Day. The name card on his desk does not say Dave or Davey, but has a favorite saying of his: "BE SO GOOD they can't ignore you."

Martinez discussed a few of those office decorations and running his first Nationals camp, one which has been highlighted by his outside-the-box ideas, including camels and chipping contests and more. First Spring Training almost complete as Nats manager, how are you feeling? Did it go by quickly or how you expected?
Martinez: Excited. Very excited and thrilled. Learned a lot about the team and individual players. I think we're going to have a lot of fun this year and be very successful. What's been the biggest change in your life since becoming Nats manager?
Martinez: I try to keep everything very simple, as far as any major changes. I've done this for so many years and I appreciate the game and people very much so I just go about my business and try to be the same as I always was. You mentioned before that first Spring Training game, going into it you were like, 'OK, will it be different because you're calling the shots?' And it felt kind of the same. Have you thought about what that first game in Cincy will be like?
Martinez: I think once the initial ceremonies get by, we get introduced, I think everything just kind of sets in. What I know and what I like, I put together a really good staff. We collaborated a lot throughout Spring Training and we'll do the same thing during the season. For me, I don't feel like I'm on an island by myself. I feel like I've got really good help around me. Not only from a coaching staff, but from the front office, the top, our analytical guys, so this is a collaboration of all of us. I understand that at the end of the day, I make the final decision on the field, but it'll be a decision made based on the information that we have. It's been a theme of camp that you've emphasized being loose and keeping the guys having fun and those kind of things. What are the benefits of that? And is that something that as a player you learned, or is that something that developed as a coach?
Martinez: I think I learned it more as I became a veteran player. I enjoyed the game so much and I did it pretty much my whole life, so why not have fun with it? And then I took it to another level as a coach. For me, it was as a player you think about what you can do to help a team be successful, help win. As a coach and manager, you try to get 25 guys [to do] what you're trying to accomplish, and I think the only way you can do that is to let them have fun. It's a grind, we get it. But they've got to be able to enjoy the environment and want to come here and do the best that they can because they're having fun doing it. You've brought in camels, had a chipping and putting contest, "Turn it Up" Day the other day. How do you come up with these things and is it something where you have a list somewhere?

Martinez: I think it's, at the end of the day, how I sit around and think about things. How I perceive things and what we need to do. It's all about bringing the guys together. I want these guys to think it's a whole unit. I know individually, they're all very, very talented. But it takes the whole team to win championships, and I really want them to believe that. So there is a list?
Martinez: Well there's thoughts (laughs). And there's more coming?
Martinez: Yeah, we'll see something. I want guys to want to come to the ballpark, I really want them to be themselves, and express what they're feeling and how they're feeling. Not everybody's going to feel good every day, I get that. But for me, this is my place of sanctuary. I love being out on the field, and I want them to feel the same way. "Be so good, they can't ignore you." Tell me about that.

Martinez: I want them to perceive what I perceive. For me it's about, doing the best you can, every second you can. And when you do that, people buy in. That's what I want the guys to do. I want them to be really good that people talk about them. So that's a message for people coming into your office to see or a self-reminder?
Martinez: It's for me, it's for everybody else. When they read that they say the same thing. They read it back to me and I say, 'Yeah, that's who you are. You're that good. People will talk about you every day because you're that good. They can't ignore you.' Where'd you first hear that, or is that your own saying?
Martinez: No, that's something that I saw and I thought, 'What better way to describe what you want your day to be like?' I don't see them all right now, but you usually have a million iPads and computers all around. Can you explain?
Martinez: I carry different ones for different information. This one here will have all my analytical stuff. You know at any given time some of these, they go down or start running slow, so I like to have one in case I have to look something up really quick. Then I've got one to have a lot of music on. I have three, analytics, music and one just a little bit of everything. You've got a few bottles of wine back there. I know you're really into wine. How did that develop?
Martinez: That's something [Cubs manager] Joe [Maddon] got me into. Never had wine until I met Joe. I tried it, acquired a taste for it and he's a wine connoisseur. He tried to slowly but surely get me to, take a sip of this, take of sip of this, tell me what you like and I said, 'Oh I like this one.' Then it was, 'Here you'll like this one,' then next thing I know I started acquiring a taste for different wines. Now, I enjoy having my glass of wine after every game. And I like it. You also meal prep? Are you still staying on a strict diet?
Martinez: For me, it's about being a little healthier. And we have good food, every day I go in there [the cafeteria] and if I like something I'll have a little portion of it. But I like fish and I eat a lot of fish. I try to tell them to bring as much fish as they can because I'll eat it. For lunch and dinner. You also fish?
Martinez: Love to fish. How much fishing have you had a chance to do down here?
Martinez: I've gone a couple times. One day we had the day off and I went and spent 4 1/2 hours and caught a bunch of fish. Bass fish. I love it, it's kind of peaceful for me. Do a lot of thinking about different things. What I want to accomplish over the weeks. Have you already scouted out places in D.C. to fish?
Martinez: They told me not to fish in the Potomac. But yeah, I'll definitely seek it out. Everybody keeps telling me they have great striped bass fish like in the Chesapeake, so I'll have to try that one day, in a day off or something. As it gets warmer. What's been your favorite part of camp and this experience as you get ready for Opening Day?
Martinez: I think really getting to know everyone. My conversations with the players, coaches, staff, I've really enjoyed it. For me everybody seems to be on board and that's a good feeling.