Dave Martinez will get his first opportunity to manage at the major league level in 2018 with the Washington Nationals. Today, at the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida, Martinez held a Q&A with the media about preparing for spring training, his role as manager and what he learned from Joe Maddon.
Q. What’s the last month been like for you and what was kind of putting your staff together like?
DAVE MARTINEZ: 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. The coaching staff, Mike (Rizzo) 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.
Q. Have you talked to Bryce?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, I talked to Bryce. 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 (Maddon), obviously, and he told me just to be myself. He said, “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. 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 has changed 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: 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.
Q. Are you going to have regular meetings 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. They have all played the game, so I think that I’m going to let them do their job, but I’m going to communicate with the players on a daily basis. 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. 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?
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. 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. 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? 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. 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.