Nationals manager Davey Martinez said one major issue with trying to play baseball amid the coronavirus pandemic is that he cannot yet get the entire team together on the field at one time.
The “circle of trust” was a big rallying cry for the club the last couple of spring trainings under Martinez’s direction, but with current safety protocols in place, it just isn’t possible.
“For us, we are basically working in groups,” Martinez told reporters during a Zoom video call Sunday. “This is a team game and we haven’t seen the whole team on the field yet at one time. So that’s strange. It’s hard. We are used to seeing spring training starts, 60 guys in one group and working together, and we haven’t done that yet. As a matter of fact, we are bringing guys in, one or two guys in the afternoon individually, to get their work in. Just to keep the social distance from now until we get through this process, and see what’s going to transpire in the next few days.”
Martinez said his day begins around 7 a.m. and runs until 6 p.m., with players coming into the stadium area in small groups for scheduled segments. Then those players leave the park entirely and are replaced by a new group, based on team-set time frames.
“They have been really good. We got everything set on time, based on the protocols they gave us,” Martinez said. “Guys coming in at different times, staggering the testing part of it. They are all getting in (and) we are setting everything up in four or five different stages where they get all their work in fairly quickly. They get everything they need to get done and they get out of here as quickly as we can possibly get them out of here to keep them social distanced, so we can get the next group in.”
* Last season, Martinez had to leave the team in September in order to deal with a heart issue that required a cardiac catheterization and a few days in a D.C. hospital. This health issue is something that is in the back of the skipper’s mind today. As he continues vigorous safety protocols in the first few days of summer training, Martinez admitted his No. 1 concern is his players’ health and safety.
“As we all know, I’m definitely at a little bit of a risk,” Martinez said. “I’m doing everything I can to stay healthy. I wash my hands 47 times a day. I wear my mask everywhere. I leave here with gloves on. I am going to do everything I can to stay healthy. The biggest part of that is not to get anybody else sick in case I do come up with it. I don’t want to get anybody sick. I worry about that more than me getting sick. I was just want to make sure I’m healthy and everyone else stays healthy.”
* On the field this season, the National League will employ the designated hitter rule. The Nats may have a bit of advantage on this rule change for 2020, even without the clutch bat of Ryan Zimmerman, who has opted not to participate in this season. The team has sluggers Eric Thames and Howie Kendrick available, as well as Asdrúbal Cabrera, Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki, all of whom have played a good amount of time in the American League and have experience at DH.
“The good thing is we have options,” Martinez said. “We got a lot of guys that could DH for us. I kind of like that. I’m from the old school of the National League where I kind of like pitchers hitting and the strategy. But this is part of the 2020 season. We are all going to have the DH, so I’m looking forward to see what transpires. But we got some pretty good DHs that is going to be in our lineup, so it gives them a chance to actually play every day as opposed to not playing.”