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October 11, 2019

Dave Martinez

St. Louis, Missouri - pregame 1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Obviously lots of open jobs. What does it mean to you to be an inspiration to other Latino managers, managerial candidates who aspire to be at the big league level?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I think it's awesome. But for me I think that these guys that are getting mentioned it's based on merit and what they bring to the table. A lot of these guys have played the game for a long time, they understand the game, and I think they're going to be great managers one day.

Q. With Daniel not being here today can you walk us through the conversation you had with him, the decision process, maybe how the whole thing went with his wife?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, I talked to him -- well, I tried to talk to him earlier this morning to see what was going on. Didn't hear back from him. Apparently the baby didn't want to come out until later on this morning. So everything's fine, he had a little girl, congratulate him and his wife. But we're going to miss him today, he's going to try to get back here possibly tomorrow. But for me I told him I said, hey, family's always first. I mean, I get it, I understand. The timing didn't work out like we thought, baby wasn't ready to come out. So we get him back when we get him back.

Q. The decision to put Elias on the roster over Strickland and what have you seen from Elias and how confident are you in using him in some of these late game or lefty matchups?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, I watched him throw a couple bullpens, a couple sides, and he threw the ball really well, I mean really well. He gives us another lefty in the bullpen, which is kind of nice. And, yeah, he'll be used. Remember, he's a guy that, not only against lefties but he's had pretty good success against right-handed hitters as well in his career, so I like having another lefty in the bullpen.

Q. What's the update on Suzuki and Robles and any concern about possibly being shorthanded in terms of healthy players tonight?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, you know, with Robles, once again, it's kind of a day-to-day thing. He's about 80 to 85 percent. If you know Victor, he's an all-out guy, he's not going to let up. So we want to make sure when we get him back, to me it's worth him missing another day or two to get him fully back, hopefully.

Like I said before, with Michael playing center field we don't miss much defensively. And Michael's swinging the bat and doing really well right now.

Suzuki, he still has more tests to take today. So right now we'll know, I'll know more in the next coming hours or something like that, but we need to be cautious. When it comes to a head injury, we got to make sure that he's good to go.

Q. When Max was out here he said a 7-game series is a little more like a regular season and he didn't necessarily expect to be used in relief. What's your sort of strategy?
DAVE MARTINEZ: So what he's saying is he doesn't want to pitch in the bullpen?


No, yeah, I agree, we got to get these guys ready to start their game, especially the first couple games here. After that anything can happen. But I'm excited that he's going to pitch Game 2, so let's get him ready for Game 2.

Q. What's the impact of not having Daniel here tonight?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I think that, hey, look, Doo's throwing the ball really well. So if need be, he's going to, he'll close today. But these other guys, Rainey's throwing the ball well, Rodney's available, Rodney's done well for us. You might see Voth have a higher impact in today's game as well without Huddie. So we have enough weapons in that bullpen to hold off. Like I said, it's one game, we'll figure it out. When the game starts we'll see where we're at and then we'll go from there.

Q. You guys have been on the road a lot in these playoffs. Back home Caps wearing your jerseys on the plane and the batting helmet as their kind of go-to win signature. Last spring you were rocking their hat. Can you talk about how much that means to you guys -- obviously the Mystics last night.
DAVE MARTINEZ: We all feed off of that. It's awesome to see those guys wearing Nats gear. It's just, for us, it's a different sport, but they're all athletes, they get it, they want to support us, we want to support them. We're going to try to rock a Mystics T-shirt, I think it's coming, so hopefully I'll get it here soon.

Q. Not much surprises you about Soto, I suppose, but seeing him in the postseason for the first time hasn't rattled him. Does that surprise you, do you step back and appreciate it, what about him allows him to do that?
DAVE MARTINEZ: We have said this all along, even when I first met him, at 19, when I first saw him, how poised he was, how he did everything. Almost like very methodical how his thought process is. So we played some big games, and this sticks out to me because we were in New York and we had 50,000 people in a big series and I thought this is the first time we get to see him and Victor, the young guys, playing in a big atmosphere like that. And, man, he was all in. He was excited, he was revved up.

And now we're in the postseason and it doesn't seem, nothing seems to bother him, he just wants to go out there and have good at-bats and play good defense and help us win.

Q. What kind of role do you envision for Javy Guerra and how did you decide that Wander would be the one that comes off the roster when Daniel's back?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I like Javy for two reasons: He's got a good changeup, good, he can elevate his fastball. Also too, he could give us, in a 7-game series he could give us multiple innings if we need. So I thought that was key.

Q. Wander?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, Wander, he's on tonight and I just think that right now we're better off with having Guerra. I mean if we have to use Voth for a couple innings tonight or the next day, he might be down for a day, so -- or two. So having Guerra is important.

Q. Was there a moment at all with Soto when you knew that he was going to live up to the hype and that he was going to be maybe even better earlier than you could have expected?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I'll go back in spring training the first time I saw him. He came up, we brought him in as an extra player, I got him in the game, they told me you got to see this kid, he's pretty good. I said, okay, you know, he's 19. And he gets in, first at-bat he has is against a left-handed pitcher, he goes up there, guy throws him a slider in the dirt, he missed it by a mile. I thought, okay, we got a 19-year-old kid. All right. So he stepped out of the box, shook his head a little bit, gets back in the box, next pitch, guy throws him the same pitch and he just looks at it and takes it and looks down and just goes (Indicating). And I'm thinking to myself, huh. Next pitch, same pitch, got it up a little bit, and he hit a rocket off the left center field wall. And I thought, whoa, that's pretty impressive that a kid could just step back and say, okay, I just saw one, I swung.

So the next time I saw him, basically almost the same thing, like he got up there and did, swung at a bad pitch, stepped back, regrouped, got back in the box, took the same pitch, took another pitch, and then hit a bullet to right.

And then I started inquiring about this kid. And then we get him. Howie gets hurt, that's how we end up getting him. And I'm sitting in my office and Riz comes in, after I spoke to the media, he comes in and sits down and we're sitting there and I said, man, we're losing players like crazy. And he says, yup, and he says I'm bringing up Soto. And I went, what? You know, he's 19. He goes, he'll be all right. He said just you got to watch him, just got to teach him how to play the outfield. And I said well, we'll break him in slow and just figure out, maybe let him play against right-handed pitching.

So we get him, first game he sits, watches, second game, put him in, and against a lefty. I said, you know, whatever. And first at-bat he hits a three-run bomb to left center field. And I said, well, so much for platooning him. So I said, well, just let him, we'll play him until he shows me that he can't play and we'll figure something out. And the guy's been playing ever since. Never wants to come out of the game, I try to give him days off, doesn't like it. Just wants to continue to play and every time I see him he gets better and better. His outfield play, I looked up at his numbers in the outfield and I thought to myself, he's got a pretty good chance to win a Gold Glove in left field, I mean he's been that good. But just, he's a student of the game, loves to play the game, loves to get better, and works diligently at every aspect of the game.

Q. I know this is a bit of a worn topic probably in DC, but Soto's routine between some of, some pitches, his takes, what's your view of that and how do you feel like that's been received maybe particularly with some of the more veteran guys around the league?
DAVE MARTINEZ: For me, and I said this before, at first when I saw him doing it I thought, you know, it's a little, you know. But then after talking to him and watching him, it's a routine that he uses to get to the next pitch. I mean, when you talk to him he really feels like that's his batter's box, he owns that batter's box. And when he does that, it's basically just saying, hey, I'm going to get back in here and I'm going to get ready to hit the next pitch. If he misses one or whatever or if he takes one, it's just his way of saying, hey, this is my batter's box, it's part of the game, we got a game, it's me against you, and I'm going to try to beat you.

Q. AnĂ­bal obviously has a very different style of pitching than your other starters, but he was very successful against the Dodgers, he's been successful for you for a long time. Why do you think he's able to -- why do you think that approach is still able to be successful against really good lineups and do you feel like it's still a good matchup against the Cardinals?
DAVE MARTINEZ: For me it's his ability to mix all of his pitches in. Some guys think he has five pitches, sometimes I think he has nine. He throws everything at different speeds, he keeps hitters off balance. And I think the key to any pitcher is, if you're not a power pitcher, is to keep guys off balance. He never throws two of the same pitches, he always mixes all his pitches in. And getting ahead. When he gets ahead, he's just as good as anybody.

Q. You're the first manager to take the franchise after in its Washington incarnation to this level of the playoffs. Can you just say what that means to you?
DAVE MARTINEZ: For me I'm very happy that we got to this point, but when I signed up for this job my goal was always to win a World Series championship. So I'm happy we are here, but my job's not over.

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