Martinez says games without fans won't deplete drive to win

One scenario that could take place if games return in late June or early July would be stadiums without fans in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic. This dynamic would completely change the mood and tempo of games. Home field advantage could be taken out of the equation with no crowd to stand up and cheer at two strikes in an at-bat or get pumped up at the sight of a three-run homer.

Nationals manager Davey Martinez believes his players will be able to generate their own energy and momentum during a game if fans are not allowed to attend.

I think the momentum come from the guys competing," Martinez said on a Zoom conference call from his home in Tennessee Friday afternoon. "They still know they got to go out there and compete. I think that's motivation in itself. It's going to be weird. There's no question about it. We are so used to having fans in the stands.

Martinez-Argues-Blue-Sidebar.jpg"I've been in professional baseball since 1983. This will be a first for me. Even in the minor leagues, we had fans. This is new territory for a lot of us, but it's going to be a part of it if we get started. The good thing is if it does happen and we are playing baseball it will be televised and fans get to see it on TV. But we got to make the best of it, we got to compete."

Martinez said he still will be in charge of managing the game and making sure he puts the Nationals in the best spot to win the game. And whether there are 44,000 fans at Nats Park or a handful of stadium personnel, his mantra does not change from one game to the next:
Just find a way to win that day.

"For me, you are still managing a game," Martinez said. "With that being said, it is going to be quiet, it is going to be empty. I got to be very careful what I scream out nowadays. The motivation is still there. We want to win every day, every game. I think these players are professional to understand that.

"There are going to be changes, no question. The bottom line (is) we are there to compete, we are there to win games every day. I've said this before. I know you guys (have heard it) and I never get tired of saying it: We got to go 1-0 every day."

Martinez outlined what he has been doing day to day during the coronavirus shutdown. He has had Zoom meetings and calls with his coaches, especially pitching coach Paul Menhart and hitting coach Kevin Long. They have established a plan for their players during the shutdown, so if and when a new spring training term is announced, the guys will be ready.

"When this pandemic started we had a plan that Paul Menhart put together, a throwing program, along with our training staff and strength staff," Martinez said. "Players were given kind of a basic strength and conditioning program to do. With that being said, everything is different because we don't know what actually they have (equipment-wise) or what they can use. So, a lot of guys are doing different things to stay ready. A lot of guys have gotten (Peloton stationary bikes).

"A lot of our pitchers went out and bought mounds and put them in their backyard and have been throwing. Guys are hitting in their backyard cages. K. Long stays in contact with them, seeing how many swings they are taking. Then again, we have a lot of guys that came into spring training that were sore for some reason, hurt a little bit, using this time to really focus on rehabbing and getting ready for the season."

Looking at this season from a long view, Martinez said he will not take an abbreviated regular season lightly.

If his team does indeed play regular season games that count, then the season counts, Martinez said. Whether it is 100 games, 80 games or whatever is decided, teams can't simply through the motions just because the season didn't start as scheduled in late March. He will treat the games as they were intended: They all count in the standings. And he will try to win them all.

"2020 I don't think there will be any asterisk in anything," Martinez said. "It is what it is. It's a season. We are going to go out there and do our very best to win another championship."

* Programming note: "Nationals Classics" tonight rewinds to June 4, 2019, when Stephen Strasburg earned his 100th win as the Nats rallied past the White Sox, 9-5. The replay begins at 7 p.m. on MASN.

A few questions for O's fans
The draft could be the first event of a 2020 MLB s...

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to