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December 9, 2019

Dave Martinez

San Diego, California

Q. What's your initial reaction to Strasburg coming back?
DAVE MARTINEZ: For me, it was an early Christmas present. It really was. I mean, you look at our pitching staff now, and we're solid. We have four quality starters. Stras, the year he had and just the whole, just watching his whole career, to think that he's going to end it here with the team he started with is awesome for him and his family.

Q. Did you allow yourself to think of the possibility of a rotation without him?

Q. Or did you not let those thoughts creep in?
DAVE MARTINEZ: It wasn't a question. I really felt that, if things go all right, that he'll be back. I know he bought a house in D.C. For me, I felt like he wanted to stay or it's just a matter of logistics.

Q. Dave, have you talked to any of those guys about the fact that they pitched an extra month and maybe changing what they do in the off-season or taking a little bit more rest going into Spring Training?
DAVE MARTINEZ: We talked a little bit about pushing their program back a few weeks and not start throwing. I know some of these guys like to start to throw in December, maybe wait until second week of January. But I want them to understand that a lot of games to be played in March and April, and we've got to be ready to play those games, so they've got to be ready to open up and give us the innings we need.

Q. What's the key? What's the first message you tell them about trying to repeat?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Status quo.

Q. What's the challenge?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Status quo really. We went 1-0 all year. The message is going to be clear: Hey, we're not going to sneak up on anybody this year, that's for sure. So we've got to be ready to go from day one. With that being said, I want them to understand, hey, we're going to do business like we've done in the past, and we're just going to try to go 1-0 every day. Why change something that works?

Q. Davie, by the way, congrats. 2017, is that a reference point for you as you go forward with messaging with the team into next year?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Going through all these playoffs and the World Series like we did, '16 and now, I learned a lot about what to do, how to come out of that and what we need to do. We need to set a precedent early. We've got to come out ready to play. Like I said, we're not going to sneak up on any team. A lot of teams are getting better. We've got to be prepared and be ready to play from day one.

Q. Davie, I assume your stress test has been a lot better than maybe in October? How's everything?
DAVE MARTINEZ: It's good. The stressful eating is gone, by the way, but I feel good. I took my final test. Everything came back negative, and I got a clean bill of health.

Q. Dave, with that three-batter minimum possibly playing out in the rules, have you started to allow yourself how you manage games and strategy now?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, I've been kind of contemplating things in my head, what we want to do and what we want to see and the kind of pitchers we want in our bullpen. We talked a lot about it. We're still not done finalizing things, but we're going to look at a lot of different options.

Q. Is that something you want to see come into play, or would you rather keep it the way it is?
DAVE MARTINEZ: For me, it's a fine line, it really is. If a pitcher's struggling and he can't get to three hitters and he's got 37 pitches, it's going to be hard. It really is. I'm hoping that nobody, because of the rule, that nobody gets injured or gets hurt.

Q. Dave, what advice would you give Carlos Beltran? And what do you think of the fact that you and Alex Cora have won championships in the last two years, what do you think that will do for more Latinos getting opportunities?
DAVE MARTINEZ: For me and Carlos, being his first year as a manager, my biggest thing with him is, hey, stay in the moment and just be true to you. That's something that I learned, I learned from Joe. When things go bad, when things aren't right, just be true to who you are because the players will follow you and believe in them.

Q. You guys won last year without Bryce. In the outfield, you've got Soto and Robles, lots of years under control, lots of future. How excites does that make you guys?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Very excited. Now that everything is said and done and we did what we did, now I started looking forward to the future and what we have for next year. I like where we're at, especially now getting Strasburg back.

Obviously, Rendon is still out there. I love him. He means a lot to this organization and to this team. So hopefully, he's the next piece.

Q. When you hear guys like Kris Bryant might be moved in the off-season, what are things that come through your mind? You were with him as he grew into the great player he is right now. What does it say? Does it say anything about where baseball is at right now where where teams are held off because of constraints on money?
DAVE MARTINEZ: For me, you talk about a guy like Kris Bryant, who is a tremendous player, and anybody, including the Cubs, will benefit from having a player like him. So this game, we're in a new era. So this game, things are going to change. Things are going to happen. Talking to some of these guys, the players just want to play, and that's all they worry about. So regardless of where he ends up -- and for me, I still believe he's a Chicago Cub, that he's going to do well.

Q. David, you guys bring back Kendrick, what kind of role do you envision for him?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He's going to be the same, play a little first, a little second, DH when we play interleague. My biggest thing with Howie, we talk about all the time, is keeping him healthy.

Q. You found the right balance that last season. Was that a pretty good tempo with number of games and number at-bats?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Absolutely. We talked a little bit after he signed, and he asked him how he felt, and he said he felt great and that he really feels like he could probably play a little bit more. So we'll see. My biggest thing with him is just to get him through the season and keep him healthy.

Q. Carter Kieboom was thrown into a tough spot earlier in the season. What's your sense of how far he's come since then and how close he is to being a Big Leaguer and where do you think in the field that might be?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He's close. After we had him, he went back down to AAA, kept his head up, and played really well, hit well, did some adjustments. He's going to come to Spring Training and get a shot to play different positions. We'll see. We'll see what transpires, but he's a kid that we value very much. We know what he can do with the bat. We've got to figure out a position for him, whether it's second base or third base, but I think that he adds some value and he could help us in the future.

Q. Dave, the Scherzer/Strasburg plan was sort of a long-term vision when the club was sort of looking down the road. When you look at the two of them together, how special is it what they were able to do this past season and how nice is it for you and the other guys?
DAVE MARTINEZ: What they did this season has been incredible. The big thing about Stras -- one, they're two different people, but they have so much appreciation for each other. They feed off each other. And they have this competition amongst themselves, Corbin included, Sanchez include.

So to have them back, for me, like I said, it's an early Christmas present. I know the boys, his teammates are excited that he's back. I've already gotten a bunch of text messages, and they're all happy.

It's nice to keep the family together. So looking forward to 2020. Our starting rotation is looking pretty good. So let's keep going from there.

Q. Dave, have you seen the relationship grow between those two? We had a very visceral exchange among them two years ago. How do you think that kind of helped things, if it did, and how has their relationship grown since?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Those things are going to happen when you're around each other for eight, nine months out of the year. What I saw after Game 6 and the game was over, Scherzer jumping up and down and giving Stras a huge hug and telling him how proud he was of him. He's just awesome. That was really nice to see.

Q. Davie, earlier when Scott and Mike were talking about the deal for Stephen, Scott mentioned it went back to 2012, building trust between your organization and Stephen. How do you feel about the way Stephen does trust the Nats and loves the city and the organization, that that played a factor in his staying? Do you sense that from him?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I think it played a huge part in it, I really do. Like I said, he feels like this is part of his family. I know the training staff, he loves our training staff, loves the players that he surrounds himself with, the coaching staff. He always talks about how the coaching staff has helped him in many, many ways.

So for me, like I said, I couldn't see him going somewhere else. I really couldn't. I really felt like his heart was here.

Q. How much of the World Series film have you been watching back the last couple of weeks?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Two days ago, I watched the documentary. Knowing the outcome and knowing me, I was managing the game on TV, yeah. I said, what are you doing? It's over. We're winners. But just to watch these guys -- look, people talk to me about what was the moment? Like what was the moment where everything hit me? When Hudson threw his glove, I sat on the chair, and I looked out, and I watched them all running -- I'll not forget that day.

Q. Davie, are you as happy as Nats fans were when they (indiscernible)?
DAVE MARTINEZ: There's certain moments in a game where he was really good. He had everything working, and Anthony got a pitch that he could hit and hit the home run. At that particular moment, that ball was good. It wasn't bad. They had Will Harris, who was really good all year long.

I felt like, hey, just like when Zim hit his home run, it uplifted our team. You could see the guys just getting fired up and the dancing. I said, okay, this is going to be interesting again. We just need to break that ice, and sure enough, Howie hits the two-run homer, and things just got exciting.

Q. Davie, you talked about how you guys want to bring the family back. You've already signed Stras and (indiscernible), but at what point did you realize there's a lot we have to do this off-season to keep these guys here?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Things happen. There's always transition. It's free agency. So guys can talk to 29 other teams. Do I want all our guys back? Absolutely. Is it going to happen? I don't know. But these guys, they've got to think about their families, and things always change. So what I do know about our group of guys, our ownership, Rizz, myself, we're very competitive, and we're going to put a team out there that can compete in 2020.

Q. Dave, do you take an active role in that? Did you reach out to Stras during that time? Have you talked to Anthony at all?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I know, when these guys become free agents, it's a time for them to make big decisions for them and their families and just let them be. I'm going to reach out to Stras when I get some time here in the next hour or so and just congratulate them.

Q. Soto's approach to defense in his first year, what more could you ask for him? He's done so much at such a young age.
DAVE MARTINEZ: Just keep hitting, keep improving. They take ten minutes a day every day, and they go out there and work on their play. Bobby Henley has done a great job with those guys. He really has. I really believe, and I pushed Juan and Victor and tell them, hey, I want you guys to win a Gold Glove. That should be a goal when you're playing defense, is to win that Gold Glove, and they both took it to heart.

Q. Davie, part of the process of letting Bryce walk last year was knowing that you had Soto and Robles. You're not in the same position if Rendon were to leave. How do you figure you could account for that big of a loss? Does that make it even more important to try and retain him?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Right now, the way I look at it, I don't try to think that Anthony's gone until he's gone and signs with another team. In the end, if that does happen, we're going to look at other avenues and other things and try to fill that void, but it's a tough one to fill.

Q. Are there others in your lineup -- and most of it is returning intact -- are there any like younger guys that you could see stepping into a more significant role, whether it's moving up in the lineup or just having -- you can count on more production from them than maybe you got this year?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I haven't really thought about a lot of it yet. What I know -- and I said this all last year -- the importance of having Anthony Rendon in our lineup, he was the guy that made our lineup go. He was the guy that was consistent all year long and has been his whole career. So it's going to be a void that we need to figure out.

Q. Assuming Ryan Zimmerman signs -- and it looks like he will -- how many games can he play at first base?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I'm hoping he can play a lot, but like I said, having him and Howie kind of helps. Signing Howie, signing him back, they both can play first base. And the biggest thing is, look, a healthy Zim can put up some big numbers for us, we know that, but we've got to keep him healthy.

Q. Given Kendrick, would he be more utility -- would you play more at first base as a utility player?
DAVE MARTINEZ: When Howie's healthy, he'll play second base. He can play probably a lot of second base, maybe two, three times a week if need be, and that being said, hopefully, Zim can play four or five times a week.

Q. You got a brief look at Carter Kieboom last year. What are your expectations in 2020 especially with Rendon's status up in the air?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I really feel that he learned a lot just coming up that short period of time. We know what kind of player we think he can be, and like I said, he's learned how to become that player. He went back down, and I've seen a lot of guys that came up and had a rough time that go back down and don't quite put it together. He went back down there and had a really good year in AAA.

So it's just a learning process for him. We have some special young players, Soto being one, Victor learning, he learned a lot, man. His improvement this year was incredible -- at the plate, defensively. And the biggest thing I'll tell Carter is that he's a guy that needs to use the whole field when he hits and not to take his at-bats out to the field. It's two different things. You've got to play defense, and then you've got to hit. I think that's something, as a young player, that you need to learn to be consistent up here.

Q. Would you be comfortable bringing him on your opening day infield, or do you think he needs more time?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He's going to get an opportunity to play this spring, so we'll see where we're at then.

Q. Dave, what would you say is set in your bullpen?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Hey, look, obviously we have Doolittle. I like what Randy did towards the end of the year. He grew a lot and matured a lot. You have Suero, who I think did a great job. (Indiscernible) doesn't say that, but he pitched a lot of innings for us, pitched some big innings for us. We've got Strickland, Elias back. What I would like is hopefully we can find a few "back end of the bullpen" guys to complement Doolittle.

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