The Nationals had the oldest clubhouse in the major leagues last season. That type of experience and leadership was important to their success. This season, many of those same veterans are back, but the club must adjust without guys like Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman.
Manager Davey Martinez was asked Saturday who he felt might step up to take on a more vigorous leadership role on this 2020 version of the Nats?
Martinez believes a soft-spoken veteran shortstop might be in line to take on a more prominent role.
“There’s a few,” Martinez said to reporters on a Zoom video call. “You got (Max) Scherzer, you got (Stephen) Strasburg, you got (Aníbal) Sánchez, Asdrúbal (Cabrera), Adam Eaton, even Trea (Turner).
“I look at Trea as being a guy that’s established here and keeping things under control as well. They get it. They know why we are here. They know what we are trying to do. They also know we got to stay healthy because it does nobody no good if you get sick. We had two good days so far and they have all been in, they’ve all been getting their work in. Let’s hopefully keep it going and keep everyone safe.”
* One major rule change to speed up games this season is the extra-inning adjustment that allows each team to begin a half-inning with a runner on second base. Martinez is not a fan of this tweak of the rules to speed up play so that there will not be long, drawn-out extra-inning contests.
“I don’t like it because it takes away a little bit from the game,” Martinez told reporters. “You are 0-0 in a game, or 1-1, or tied, whatever, and you are still working to play that game, and all of a sudden they throw a guy out there for free basically. To me, it just doesn’t seem right. I have been doing this for a long time as a player, as a coach and now as a manager. I’m kind of old-school in that way.
“But you know what? It’s a new era, so we will see what happens and we will see what transpires. I haven’t met anyone so far that likes it.”
* Saturday was supposed to be another rematch in the club’s Fourth of July weekend series against the Astros. The skipper said the World Series rematch against the Astros at Nationals Park would have been special had the original schedule not been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It would’ve been a good matchup,” Martinez said. “Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen. It’s kind of sad, the whole thing. We were looking forward to a huge ring ceremony with fans. We didn’t get that. The raising of the banner, we didn’t get that. It’s going to happen eventually, but not having it kind of stinks. But you know what? Moving forward, we’re back, we are going to play. It’s nice to be back, nice to see the guys. Nice to watch the guys actually work out and throw together.”
There are two new signs in the stadium that declare the Nationals as World Series champions: one above the center field wall to left of the batter’s eye and another down the right field line next to the division title signs from 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017. But the flag pole above the Nats jumbotron video scoreboard is empty. That seems to be a part of the banner raising that Martinez has promised in the past will take place when fans are allowed to return to the games.
“It is something that nobody anticipated, so we just got to move on,” Martinez said. “I tell the players, ‘hey, we are going to get our rings here soon’. The banner is going to go up and probably when fans are back in the stadium. But just remember it was one heck of an accomplishment, don’t forget it, let’s build off of that, let’s move forward.”