Nationals manager Davey Martinez got emotional at the end of his pregame video call today, and said he was worried about himself and his players after the news that 14 Marlins players and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.
The Nats are scheduled to host the Blue Jays in a two-game series that begins tonight at Nats Park.
“My level of concern went from about an eight to a 12,” Martinez said. “This thing really hits home now that you see half a team get infected and go from one city to another. I got friends on that Miami team and it really stinks. I’m not going to lie. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. To see those guys go down like that, it’s not good for them, it’s not good for anybody. I got guys in our clubhouse that are really concerned as well. For me, this is my family and I worry about these guys, worry about everybody around us. I don’t want anybody to get sick. So this is definitely a big concern.
“I can’t say that I am not thinking about it because I am. This morning, I woke up and (had) all these text messages and I talked to some other managers and there is definitely a level of concern. With that being said, we got to go out there today and focus on playing the Toronto Blue Jays and put this behind us and hopefully this gets resolved.”
Martinez said the Nationals received a negative test result from the Major League Baseball lab for outfielder Juan Soto. He has been out since Thursday after receiving a positive test result for coronavirus. The club now needs to wait 24 hours from the last negative test to test Soto again, which presumably as already occurred.
“We have our medical staff handling everything,” Martinez said. “I think they are doing a good job. The testing, MLB, they are doing the best they can. We are really at the mercy of when we get these tests back. Hopefully, next one comes back soon and it tests negative and we’ll see what happens from there.”
Martinez said Soto was holding a bat and taking swings in his home in front of his TV as he watched opening night.
“The good news is he feels fine,” Martinez said. “He’s got a bike in his apartment. He’s got some weights in there. I know he’s trying to the best he can to stay in shape. I just told him, ‘Keep your head up. Hopefully this is the last of it. You don’t have to worry about it. Once you’re back, you’re back. Once we get you on the field, we’ll keep you on the field.’ “
Martinez said Stephen Strasburg might play catch on the field before today’s game. The right-hander, who has been dealing with a nerve impingement in his right wrist, was sitting in the stands for Sunday’s game against the Yankees.
Normally lively, upbeat and animated at these pregame talks, the skipper was understandably in a somber mood today. He admitted dealing with the coronavirus and seeing players getting positive test results on other teams is taking an emotional toll on him and his club.
“It’s tough,” Martinez said. “The most important thing is the safety of our players, my coaching staff, everyone here. This is my family. I worry about each and every one of them. It’s going to be tough to sleep at night. I’ve struggled already in the past, but now you wake up in the morning and a lot of times you are waiting for test results to come back and you are sitting there going, ‘Man I just hope everybody comes back negative.’ That’s always in the back of your mind and then you got to put that aside and you got to go out there and get ready for a game and get everybody ready to go and build that energy and play the game.
“I think these guys have done a really good job on putting everything aside when that game starts and going out there and giving their max effort. I really believe that. I hope that MLB sees that these guys are putting themselves at risk for the love of the game. They are out here because they love to play the game.”
The Orioles-Marlins game tonight in Miami was postponed as the Marlins deal with an outbreak.
The Nats are scheduled to fly to Miami on Thursday night to play the Marlins for a weekend series, but those plans could change. Martinez does not know whether or not the Nats will even play the games at Marlins Park.
“As you know me, I worry about today,” Martinez said. “Hopefully, they make the right decision. That’s all I’m going to say. Miami is going through a difficult time with this virus, so we will see what happens the next day or so, but hopefully they make the right decision.”
Martinez is also worried about his health. He had to leave the team for a few days last season as he dealt with a heart issue.
“You know what? I’m going to be honest with you, I’m scared,” Martinez said. “I really am. So I go from here, home, back here every day. That’s all I do. I wash my hands - I went from 47 times a day to probably 99 times a day. Wear my mask everywhere I go. There’s that concern. Right now, you don’t know, because of my heart condition, what happens to me if I do get it?
“So I’ve got to be extra careful. That being said, sometimes I put myself aside and worry about other people more than me. I think that’s why I’m here. Because I worry about those guys before I put myself first.”
And to end the pregame video call, Martinez was asked one more time how difficult the last few days have been on him.
“We have to remember that we’re all human beings and we’re playing through some tough times,” Martinez said as his voice cracked. “I just want people to remember that. We have struggles. These guys have families. I have a family. We think about that stuff. With that being said, just remember that we’re doing the best we can.”