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December 11, 2018

Dave Martinez

Las Vegas, Nevada

Q. We've seen some nontraditional coaching staff hired. What are your thoughts on that?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I think obviously you see where the game is headed. And there's a lot of smart people that obviously they think people can do their job. It all depends what you're looking for and who is running -- the people up top, who is running everything. I think it's good for the game. It's the way the game is going.

Q. It just so happens three or four years ago -- are the players more accepting?
DAVE MARTINEZ: If you look back three or four years the players have been accepting. Analytics is here, and there's a lot of information all over, and they're using it. I know our players use it, other teams have used it and everybody has their own philosophies and theories.

Q. You were quick to act this offseason. What would be the next thing on your wish list?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Mike and the staff and the ownership has actually given me a pretty good Christmas so far. As of right now we're in great shape. We really are. I know Mike is going to do his best to keep improving our team. But we've got three unbelievable horses: Tanner coming back; Joe, hopefully he's healthy; Freddy vying for a fifth starting spot. We're looking good, bullpen, two catchers, looking forward to Spring Training.

Q. Rizzo talked about maybe you guys are playing a different style, different type of team, defense, situational hitting, maybe not rely on the power as much. Do you think that fits with what you want to do and does it lead to more wins?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Two things: It will lead to more wins. Also if you look to see what we're doing, we're trying to get more athletic. We've got younger players coming up. Two catchers that can move pretty good. We've got Robles, Michael, Eaton who is going to be healthy, Soto moves pretty good in left field. We're trying to get more athletic and change the game.

We talked a lot about going into Spring Training and really hone in on fundamentals. We lost a lot of games last year with one run. Giving teams 28, 29, 30 outs, I think that's the difference. We've got to get better at it.

Q. What are you implementing in Spring Training drills-wise or preparation-wise to try to do that?
DAVE MARTINEZ: We're going to do more team fundamentals. I was a player too at one time. You go to Spring Training all you want to do is hit, hit, hit, hit. I think this year we're going to break it down. We may not hit one day and just do all team stuff, situational baseball and things like that.

We'll looking at all these things and try to figure out the best way to do it, keep guys engaged. But you're definitely going to see more of a fundamental approach on our end.

Q. You talked about wanting guys to use the middle of the field more often. Are there drills to accomplish that?
DAVE MARTINEZ: We saw a lot of it towards the end of last year about guys spreading their legs out a little more, trying to put the ball in play and stay in the middle of the field. It kind of worked. We're going to do more of that stuff. Put guys in situations where there's two-strike hitting, getting guys on third base, less than two outs, and continually work, and put in the forefront of their mind that this is what we're going to do. A lot of times we get guys on third base; we can't drive them in. We want to move the ball in those situations.

Q. What is the biggest lesson that you took from last year, and what did you learn as manager?
DAVE MARTINEZ: For me I learned two things: As a coach, players would come to you and ask for advice and you communicate, talk. When I became a manager, you try to open those lines of communication, but a lot of times I had to go find the players. They're more apt to kind of sit down.

I told the story this morning about how I'd walk around the outfield just to talk to players, and as I was walking, a lot of guys would kind of turn away, uh-oh, here comes the manager, what's going on? Hey, all I'm here is to have a conversation. I want to keep improving my communication skills with players. And really, really hone in on like the every day, what we can do better. That's as a manager, as a coach, staff, to help our players understand the information that they're gathering.

There's a lot of information out there. How we use it is important. You can't just give guys information and expect them to understand it. We've really got to teach it.

Q. You went last year with Harper, Adams and Murphy on your roster, now you don't have those guys. Is it important to replace the power?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I don't know, for me right now we're getting more athletic. So we're going to do different things, whether it's hitting and running, bunting a little bit more. But we're fundamentally going to learn to play the game and play it right. I'm looking forward to it. I think we have the players that are able to hit the ball out of the park and hitting doubles and bunting.

Q. (Inaudible.)
DAVE MARTINEZ: I like it. I really do. Granted, and I'm not going to say we're losing Harp, because the door is still open, if he's not back, I like the way we're set up.

We're super athletic, we've got young, exciting players, and I can't wait to see Robles in Spring Training and let him play. We've got a pretty good outfielder in Michael Taylor, who I love. And he's in winter ball right now playing. Hopefully he hones down in his swing and puts the ball in play and help us out a lot.

Q. Last year there were injuries, and you got locked in on your bench when you didn't have a lot of versatility. What's your ideal bench look like as you head into this year?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I mean ultimately you have the catcher, backup catcher, I would like a good left-handed hitter maybe to hit the ball out of the ballpark, a good utility player, and those are pieces that are out there that we're still looking at. And like I said, Mike is always trying to improve. So this is not -- this is by far not over, but we had a great head start.

Q. What about last year?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Some of the things were the defense not being able to turn double plays and those things. We've really got to get better at that. And the other thing is we look back at our pitching, our pitching was pretty good. But 0-2 strikes, we led the League in giving up homers. We've got to clean that up. That can't happen. Especially with the pitching staff we have. And we're going to get better at that. We're going to be more convicted on how to get outs with two strikes and not give up so many home runs.

Q. (Inaudible.)
DAVE MARTINEZ: Absolutely. You know, adding Patrick Corbin, with Scherzer and Strasburg, those are three pretty good horses. If we hone in on our defense, which our defense wasn't awful, but like I said, in the one-run games it was significant. If we could turn the double plays in those situations. If you look at it, half the games that we played, if we win half those games, the one-run games, it would have been a whole different story last year.

Q. How will you know if Robles will be your everyday centerfield? What will you see?
DAVE MARTINEZ: How did we know Soto was going to be our everyday left fielder? Just go out and let them play and he'll dictate how much he'll play. We got Soto last year, I sat with Rizz in the office, thinking we'll play him against righties, give him days off, play him two or three times a week. I put him in the first game and never took him out. I had to beg him to take one day off. And he drove me nuts that one day, so I put him back in and never took him out again.

Q. What was your reaction when you guys signed Patrick?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I can't do a cartwheel right here. But like I said, it was an early Christmas present. I spoke to him. He's really excited to be here. Not only the player that you're getting, but the person that you're getting. He fits really well with what we're trying to do. I'm excited to see him in uniform, see him in Spring Training, see him interact with the other players.

Q. How are your cartwheel skills?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I have to work on it. But it was kind of ugly, actually. I thought it would be better.

Q. Some of the value that Martinez brought to the Red Sox this year, a number of his teammates talked about how much he influenced and helped them. How important is it to have guys like that and who are those guys on your club?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Right. I'll tell you right now for me, we've got two guys right now, and we kind of used them as an example towards the end of the year. One was Anthony Rendon, who with two strikes used the middle of the field. And the other guy was a 19-year-old, was Soto. Soto get the two strikes and spread his legs out, and all he wanted to do was make contact. He was just trying to put the ball in play. And we told some of our other players, just watch what they do. And they started doing it and started getting better at it.

So these guys -- Juan is different, he really is. I've never seen a 19-year-old kid break down pitching and hitting and mechanics like he does. He's a special kid. And Anthony is Anthony. I've always said this from the other side watching him play that he's a really good player. Now that I've got to see him play every day, he's one of the best players in baseball, he really is. Those two guys in the middle of our lineup and moving the ball around. And getting Zimm back, he's a special hitter. When he's healthy, last year his OPS was over 800. We've got to keep him healthy, he's the kind of guy that uses the whole field.

Q. What about on the pitching side?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Like I said, we've got three guys that are incredible. Tanner started off, three months where he was good, three months where he was bad. Hopefully we get the three months where he was good all year next year, and I'm looking forward to that. He's a smart guy. He picks Scherzer's brain, he picks Stras's brain. Hopefully he comes back and pitches like he's capable of pitching.

Q. (Inaudible.)
DAVE MARTINEZ: Gosh, I don't know about a group, but you look at guys that made an impact real quick like Harper when he came up, he was unbelievable. Barry Bonds, when he came up at a young age, he was unbelievable. But to see those guys, to see what they did this year, and even the power numbers and just moving the ball, really, really fun to see, watching these young guys play the way they played.

Q. Based on what you saw in Spring Training, based on what you saw, is Robles ready to be an everyday player?
DAVE MARTINEZ: When I saw him in Spring Training last year I thought maybe he needed a little bit more time. And he got hurt obviously, but when he came back and I saw him play in September, I really feel like he's ready to play. He really is. He just needs repetition to get out and play. I don't want him to do anything different. We talked about that already, I want him to go out and play baseball and have fun.

Q. What could Chip bring to the Orioles?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Chip is a great baseball man, very knowledgeable. He works great with veterans guys and young guys, he's helped me out this year. We had a lot of great conversations. And I think he deserves another chance, I really do. If I had to pick one guy out of all the guys I know, he's the perfect guy for that job. He's very patient, very adamant, loves what he does. He can help that team, that organization grow.

Q. Does he have those qualities where he's able to make the connections?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Absolutely. One thing about Chip is he'll definitely come find you.

Q. (Inaudible.)
DAVE MARTINEZ: I'll just throw it out, just one more, one more, one more of everything: One more strikeout, one more stolen base, one more walk, things like that. If we can do that consistently we're going to win a lot of ballgames, we really are.

Q. It's such a long year that creating a sense of urgency is difficult. Is that a number that you can point out that you have to be aware of?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Absolutely. And I want them to be aware also is when we score runs early we want to put teams away. Last year we didn't do that. We were scoring runs early and kind of let the other teams linger and the next thing you know we're playing a tie ballgame. If we had a chance to put a team away, let's do it early.

Q. You mentioned at the beginning that you were not in any sense moving on from Harper, it's out of your hands at this point. Is it hard to think about the Washington Nationals without Bryce Harper?
DAVE MARTINEZ: For me it's -- Bryce and I have a very, very special relationship. And I don't necessarily -- I still see him, you know, in that uniform until he actually goes. Like Rizz said earlier, the door is still open. You don't know what's going to happen. He's got a tough decision to make, we all know that. But the decision is his.

Q. What advice, if any, would you give to the next set of first-year managers about handling that first year and how?
DAVE MARTINEZ: For me it's basically you have a process, stick to it. The season kind of goes in waves. If you maintain what you want to do all year long, you come out of it okay. Being that we didn't get to where we wanted to be last year, I saw some positive things. We had a lot of injuries. But without those injuries we would never have saw Soto. And we would never saw Suero or Cordero and see what we have depth-wise. It pretty much put us in a position now where we know what we needed. We know what we have moving forward. And I think our future is bright.

Q. Is there anything you'd warn them to watch out for in the first year, any pitfalls?
DAVE MARTINEZ: No, it's funny, I just talked to Chris Woodward, we've been friends for a long time, he says what have you got? I said what have you got? You've been a coach. Go out there and teach. That's what you do best, teach and you'll be all right. You'll be fine.

Q. When you look back at last year, how do you think you handled that mix of having a message in the clubhouse?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I think our clubhouse is really, really good. Really good. My door was never closed. My door was always open. They knew that. If I had to deliver a message it would typically be one-on-one. If I had to deliver it within the group, it wouldn't be in the clubhouse; it would be outside. Kind of a loose atmosphere. I'm not big on meetings or slamming doors or things like that, it's all about conversation.

Q. The division is obviously kind of loaded up as you guys have loaded up. How does that change how you think going into next season?
DAVE MARTINEZ: It's about competing every day, being ready to compete. Using information. Preparing every day. And compete. Don't take anything lightly. Like I said, do the little things. We've got to do the little things consistently better. And if we can do that, the talent is there. We all see that. We all know that. We've just got to do little things.

Q. Never has happened that three Puerto Rican managers in the Big Leagues at the same time. What does it mean to you personally?
DAVE MARTINEZ: For me, in this game there's a lot of Latinos, former players that understand the game and get the game. And it's good to see that we're getting an opportunity now to be able to manage in the Big League level.

I've known Charlie for a long time. He was a great manager in the Minor Leagues, was a really good coach. And he gets it. I'm glad he got the opportunity. And as you know, Alex, Alex first year wins the World Series. So another good baseball man.

So I'm glad we're getting an opportunity to manage in the Big Leagues and it's good for guys that want to manage that are Latins and have inspiration to manage.

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