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October 1, 2019

Dave Martinez

Washington, DC - pregame

Q. How much did you know about Daniel Hudson before the trade, and what has he brought to this bullpen?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Well, I knew a lot about him. He's been in many teams. We've faced him quite a bit. But he's been unbelievable since we got him. I mean, he had a really good year with Toronto. And Riz, we kept on eye on him before the deadline, and we really liked him. But he's meant a lot to our bullpen, especially with the struggles that Doo had, and he all of a sudden stepped up and started closing games for us. But he's kept that bullpen together.

Q. What were the tough decisions on both the roster and the lineup, who you played at first base, who you played at second, and then the choices you made pitching-wise?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, so for me, I like -- we kept Swear off for the one game. I like Strickland, I like Rainey. Rainey is throwing the ball really well right now. I like Davilo and Strickland. I think we're covered with Doo and Corbin, who's going to be in the bullpen against the left-handed hitters. I wanted to keep an extra catcher. I know Suzuki is good, but if something had to happen and we had to get Gomes in the game, having that extra catcher helps a lot.

The decision to play Howie at first base, as we all know, the guys have seen Howie play all year. He's been unbelievable for us, playing regularly, coming off the bench, playing first, second a lot. It wasn't really that tough of a decision to get him because he feels good, we gave him a couple days off. My biggest concern all year with him was keeping him healthy, and I did that, and he feels good now, so he just gives you that professional at-bat every time he's up there. With him, Caby behind him, I really like that combination.

Q. You've mentioned having all your starters available. You've also mentioned Doo and Hudson for the eighth and ninth the last couple weeks. What kind of situations do you envision for Rainey, Strickland, and Rodney? Why did they make sense to bring up on to the roster?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Well, it makes sense, one, I don't want to bring a starter in in the middle of an inning. These guys have relieved before. They know when we get in a game and a guy is on base, I want those guys in the game. Having Rainey, having Rodney, who's done it. Rainey -- like I said, Rainey has been really good the last 12 games or so. Rodney, he's done it, he's been a closer. Strickland has done it, been a closer. Hudson, Doo, those guys might be available early on, too, in a big moment. Just having those guys who have done it before, who have experience pitching in the postseason, I mean, I like that.

And then all of a sudden now, a clean inning, you have a Strasburg, you have a Corbin, if we need Sanchez, you have Sanchez later on. I think our bullpen is set for this one game today.

Q. You didn't do a whole lot of pinch-hitting, pinch-running, defensive replacements and such during the season. Having these extra bench guys on this roster, do you kind of envision changing that strategy or being more aggressive? How do you see that playing out?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, looking forward -- we kept a couple guys that could pinch-run for us, play defense and outfield, all kinds of things. There's some guys that we can't pinch-hit for, but as far as pinch-hitting, you look at our lineup, there's really not a whole lot of guys to pinch-hit for. We've got two lefties in the lineup that don't struggle really against lefties. You've got another switch-hitter, you've got right-handed hitters that don't really struggle against right-handed pitching. Unless we've got to pinch-run for these guys -- and that's what I like about our roster construction is we have a couple guys that could pinch-run, and also we have a couple guys, big bats that can pinch-hit in the pitcher spot.

Q. Even for the last week you guys had something to play for. How much do you feel that that prepared you for a game like this and for the weeks ahead?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, I think it really helped. We came into this swinging the bats really well, a testament to our guys wanting to play this game at home. They really stepped up over the last week and just really took it upon themselves to say, hey, they want to play this one game at home and stepped up and did that.

For us to continue to keep playing the way we're playing over the last 10, 12 days was really good coming into this one game and moving forward.

Q. I know you can't tell us your strategy, but what are you doing differently because the season is on the line, either in preparation or how you plan to manage?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, so obviously it's one game, we've got to play to one win one game. All year I told these guys, my message was clear with them, hey, let's go 1-0, and that's not going to change today. How we do that, I mean, we have to wait and see. But we're going to try to go 1-0 today.

Q. When you were in Chicago you guys obviously -- the franchise overcame a lot of tough postseason history to win the World Series. Nationals had a tough postseason history, too. What have you shared, if anything, with your players about how to deal with the ghosts or whatever?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, you know, for me, these are big moments. But we play it all year. We left Spring Training, we started off slow, we picked it up, we're in a position now to do really good things. The biggest thing for me and what I tell them all the time is the adrenaline. Your adrenaline is going to be going 100 miles an hour, there's no doubt. I feel it. But the biggest thing is really I tell them, hey, control your heartbeat. You guys have come a long way and played really well. Just play one more game. Just go 1-0 today, and that's all we can focus on.

You guys together are much better than any individual player, so stick together, play hard, and play to win, and that's what they've been doing for the last four, five months, so let's continue to do that today.

Q. What are the biggest things you guys had to turn around and fix to get out of that deep hole that you were in early in the season?
DAVE MARTINEZ: You know, one, it was we got healthy. Everybody got healthy, and we started playing good consistent baseball. We started doing the little things. One of the biggest things that I've noticed is our two-strike approach when it came to hitting. We started moving the baseball with two strikes, driving in cheap runs, guys on third base with less than two outs, and just continue moving the baseball, so let's continue doing that today.

Q. This is your first postseason game as a manager. What did you do last night? Can you walk us through your feelings?
DAVE MARTINEZ: You know what was funny about that is I actually slept eight hours. That was a first. I haven't made eight hours all year, so it was kind of nice. Had dinner last night, had a glass of wine. Yeah, I'm allowed to drink one glass of wine, so I had one glass, and that was kind of nice.

Yeah, my boys are all here, so we just hung out and we watched football last night and then we watched a movie, woke up this morning, had breakfast, and came to the ballpark.

Q. You have a Rendon contract expiring, Zimmerman's contract expiring, Strasburg may opt out. Any concern it might be the last game or the last couple of series for some of the heart and soul of the Nationals?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I don't think about that, I really don't, and I know the boys aren't thinking about that. They're focused on today. So let's get through today, win a game, and move on.

Q. Whose idea was it to have Aaron Barrett throw out the ceremonial first pitch and how much does he mean to the organization right now?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, I mean, his story is incredible. I mean, really. They brought it to me, and I had a conversation with them, and I told them, for me, it's quite an honor. It really is. I mean, how many guys -- I said, I've done this for a long time. No one ever asked me to throw the first pitch. But what he's meant to just this organization, the guys, the fans. I mean, the fans, when we put him in the game the other day, standing ovation. To do what he did, I mean, you don't understand what it's -- I don't understand, nobody can understand. The guy's arm pretty much fell apart, and he's pitching in the Big Leagues again.

And I told him, I said, don't -- because we talked about it, and he thought, this is -- are you trying to tell me something, and I go, no, no, no. I said, this is just the beginning. You're back. You're throwing 93 miles an hour, your slider is good. I said, hey, you're going to be able to pitch. If you can stay healthy, you'll pitch. I said, but this is just giving back what you started, and he agreed, and he's looking forward to it.

Q. How are you feeling physically, and how did you come out of the whole health scare last month?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I'm good. Yeah, my tests came back, they were all negative. Scary, real scary. I'm not going to lie to you, I was -- I'm sorry, mom, because I scared the crap out of her. But everything came back good. Thank you.

Q. You appear to be slightly more closely shaven today. Postseason superstition or coincidence?
DAVE MARTINEZ: No, I screwed up. (Laughter). The guard on my clipper was off on one side, and I just went, oh, no. I had to lower it a little bit. Let's see what happens today. (Laughter).

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