Martinez on legacy of Jackie Robinson: "He means a lot to this game"

Today marks the official Major League Baseball in-season remembrance of Jackie Robinson Day, which usually is commemorated on April 15.

Customary to the annual in-season Jackie Robinson Day celebration, all players, managers, coaches, umpires and other on-field personnel will wear Robinson's No. 42 to honor the historic significance of him breaking the color barrier in in the majors in 1947.

Soto-Robles-Kneel-Jackie-Robinson-Day-Sidebar.jpg"For us baseball players, he was the guy that united and started honestly what we call right now is our brotherhood," said Nationals manager Davey Martinez during today's pregame Zoom video call. "He means a lot to this game and to just everybody in this country. We tip our hats off to Jackie and his family. He went through a lot, we all know that. We will always respect him and thank you for what you have done because he opened up the doors for a lot of us."

Martinez spoke before today's game about where his team is at mentally after yesterday's decision to postpone their series finale against the Phillies.

"We had our meeting yesterday with the boys and after that, I told them, 'Hey, we are in a rough deal right now. We all get it. We all understand. Be mindful, be respectful of all your teammates and other members of our organization. But yet let's come back ready to play baseball (today). That's why we're here and let's have fun.'

"We will compete and have fun and just go out there and do your best. That's all I can ask from these guys. Today they seem upbeat. They want to play. I talked to a lot of them. They just want to get going and play and hopefully continue to play this out for the rest of the year."

Martinez was asked if there was any added significance to the fact that he put African American players Josh Harrison and Michael A. Taylor in his starting lineup on Jackie Robinson Day.

"I made my lineup based on a bunch of information, but after I did, I thought it was kind of nice they get a chance to play today," Martinez said. "I really did. But that had nothing to do with how I made the lineup. I base the lineup on information that we get on a daily basis, but after I looked at it I said, 'This is pretty cool they get a chance to go out there and play today.' "

* Left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle returned to the Nats earlier this week and is available to pitch tonight in the series opener against the Red Sox. Martinez said he is not afraid to get Doolittle back out there. Doolittle has recovered from right knee fatigue, which kept him out of the lineup from Aug. 11-26.

"We got to get him in there and pitch," Martinez said. "We don't want him to sit there. I told him be available every day and we will communicate and when you need a day we will give you a day. But he is here to pitch. So based on where we are at and the opponent's lineup and stuff, we deem he's the guy to get three outs, he's going to be the guy. He understands that. He's upbeat. I'm looking forward to getting him out there again."

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