December 5, 2022
San Diego, California, USA
Q. He hasn't been on your team for a couple years, but when you see the trade, the kind of contract he got today with the division rival, what's your memberships?
DAVE MARTINEZ: That was a big one. Well deserved. Trea is one of the best players in the game. He's done well over the years. We won the championship together. That means a lot to me. I wish him all the best.
I know he's going to be in our division. We've got to figure out how to get him out and keep him off the bases.
Q. Does that get any more normal as more of those guys who were a part of that team move on to other places, or does it still feel strange?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Especially now that we're going to run into them quite a bit, you still have that bond with those guys. It seems like the Phillies got a lot of our guys over there now. It will be good to see him, but also like I said, we've got to compete against him. We've got to figure out how to get him out consistently.
Like I said, he's a big part of what we did in '19. He was a big part of that. I always wish these guys the best, and good for him that he got the money that he deserved, and he's going to help a good team in our division try to win a championship.
Q. You guys brought in (indiscernible). Where do you envision him fitting in next year? I know he can do a few different things.
DAVE MARTINEZ: He gives us a little versatility. For the most part, he's going to compete for the third base job. I know Carter missed a year, but we've still got a lot of value in Carter. I talked to Carter the other day. He's been working out and hitting. He says he feels really good. He's been coming along. We expect him to be ready to go for Spring Training, and he's going to fight for a third base job.
If that works, Jeimer can do a lot of different things for us. I'm excited about that. I had him in Chicago when he was young. I know him. He's an unbelievable kid. He's got great character. He's a leader in the clubhouse.
For me, when we talked about getting him, it kind of was a no-brainer.
Q. So you're saying he'll compete first and foremost, and if Carter wins out that spot, you'll figure what else?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, we'll figure out what else we can do with him. He can play first base. He can DH. We can do a couple different things with him.
Q. Has Carter been throwing?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He's been throwing. He's still on a throwing program, and he should be ready to go in Spring Training.
Q. What's your concern, somehow major elbow surgery, I know he's not a pitcher, but what's your concern how he'll bounce back from that?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He's going to bounce back. What I want to see him do, because third base you've got different angles on throwing, we want to make sure he gets his rest. If he comes back and he's ready to do all those things and he can compete for that third base job, then he will.
Q. You talked about starting pitching, better starting pitching next season. Do you want to see the free agency to pick up more starting pitching, some guys for the rotation?
DAVE MARTINEZ: As you know, we've got some starters already in our rotation, but we don't feel like we have enough. As the season goes along, things happen. We do need, especially if we can get another veteran starter, it will be great, one or two.
I talked to Rizz about it, and as you guys know, I truly believe in starting pitching, and that's what we're looking to do right now.
Q. Are Gore and Cavali like at the normal place they would be at this time of the off-season, or either one of them in any kind of rehab?
DAVE MARTINEZ: No, they're right where they need to be right now. They're taking their winter and getting ready for Spring Training as they normally do.
Cade said he's ready to fire the ball, and I told him, well, don't do that yet. We've got plenty of time. But he's fired up. And MacKenzie, same. He's ready to go. Looking forward to watching both those guys healthy in Spring Training.
Q. You talked in the past about watching a lot of the (indiscernible) on back in October, November. Have you done that this year?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah. You know what, I liked what I saw towards the end. Our defense was better. Our hitting, our young hitters got a little bit better. We talked a lot about the chase rate. And the three guys that we really worked with, they did improve a lot. So we're hoping that we improve that a little bit more.
I want -- what I want them to come to Spring Training knowing is that everybody starts fresh. We're young, but we can compete. I don't want them to think that, hey, we're rebuilding. No, we're here to compete, and we're trying to win as many games as possible, and that's going to be the message.
I've said that message at the end of the season, and I want them to understand that, hey, losing 100 games is not acceptable. It's not. We're going to get better. So I want them to come to Spring Training knowing we're going to compete and compete to win.
Q. The three guys on the chase are (indiscernible)?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yes.
Q. When you do watch those games back, starting pitching, you guys are the worst E.R.A. in the starting pitching. Any commonality there? More personnel, case by case? What do you see the cause of that?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Juan had a lot to do with our defense early, it really did. I think we improved once we got CJ playing shortstop and moved Luis over to second base, and Vargas did a great job for us at third base. Like I said, we've got Jeimer, who's right now in between him and Carter, who's going to play third base. So we're definitely going to get better.
We definitely need more depth out of our pitching. We need guys to go a little deeper in games. Our bullpen, I think, was a big strength of ours last year, but I can't do that to them this year where they cover so many innings. We've definitely got to improve in our starting pitching.
Q. Are you comfortable having guys like Paolo and Cory Abbott in a split role or more dedicated starting pitchers?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I thought they did a fine job last year. If we could utilize any of those two as a starter and the other guy in the bullpen, we'll do that. But when we get to Spring Training, we'll stretch them out and then decide then what we're going to do with them.
Having both of them gives us a lot, like I said, a lot of versatility that they can do both.
Q. In terms of the starting pitching, you guys have Cade Cavalli coming up. How much have you seen, and what's your assessment of him?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I've seen a lot of him in the Minor Leagues. We didn't see much in the Major Leagues. This guy is a competitor. He's young, but I know that he wants the ball. He's eager. He's hungry. I'm looking forward to getting him in Spring Training and seeing what he can do.
I think he's going to have an unbelievable career, but like I said, he's still young, and he's still young to pitching. The biggest thing is that he comes to Spring Training healthy.
Q. In terms of that youth, obviously it's a developmental path. What role do you see him playing for the team next year?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I've got him penciled in as a starter for us, and rightfully so. I think he's earned it. Like I said, he checked all the boxes for us last year in Triple-A. He was going to get an opportunity to pitch. Obviously got hurt. We're looking forward to getting him back.
Q. At this point, do you use Strasburg as a part of your rotation next year, or is that a bonus if that happens?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I'm not going to put any more pressure on Strasburg. I know he's rehabbing right now. He's progressing. When he's ready and we deem he's ready, it's going to be awesome to see him out on that mound. I promise the fans that, when he does step on the mound, it will be at home. When he does that, we'll start him at home.
Q. You've been through this process with him for a while now and seeing some progress and then something happens that really sets him back. Is there a point that you have to see, like legitimate progress there, to know that he can be part of this? Is there a point that you say we can't just keep doing the same thing over and over?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He's got to pitch. He's got to get on the mound every five days consistently before we deem that he's going to be -- that he can help us. Honestly, it's more for him than anything else.
We want him to succeed regardless of what -- you've got to remember, this guy for so many years, he's one of the best in baseball, and he's gone through some troubles because of injuries.
When he comes back, I want him to come back fully healthy. I want him to go down and pitch as much as he needs to pitch, get back up here. I'm not going to say he's going to be the guy that he was six, seven years ago, but Stephen Strasburg is a competitor. He's going to compete. And that's what he does really well.
When we get him back, it will be like signing that free agent that we were looking to sign, and we'll all be happy when he does come back.
Q. With such a young team and the pitch clock obviously coming in, a lot of folks, players that have already played with the pitch clock rules, do you think that's an advantage? Do you think it's going to be a reason that you guys won't get as up to speed on that sort of thing versus other teams?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I think it's definitely going to help us for sure. These guys have done it. They understand it, and they do like to work fast. A lot of our young pitchers do work fast. I think it's going to definitely benefit us.
Q. What about for your hitters, younger hitters, even guys that are veterans, is there anything you're working on to get them adjusted, get them up to speed? I know even in the Minor League last year, there was a lot of balls with pitchers that were kind of off balance and not really necessarily in tune with the rule change.
DAVE MARTINEZ: They've got to understand, once they swing the pitch against the ball, they've got to be ready to go. They've got to understand they've got to pick up the signs from the third base coach and get ready to hit it right away. And they're going to really enforce it. They told us that right from day one. It's going to be enforced.
So unless they want to get called a strike, they'd better be ready to go and get in that box.
Q. You guys have the top pick of the Rule V draft. What kind of player would you like to see added to your roster?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Right now we're talking about all kinds of different options, whether it's a pitcher, whether it's a position player. So when the time comes, we'll try to pick the guy we feel that could actually really help us because, like I said, we are young.
For me, I'd rather have a pitcher because you could use him as a young player. It will be tough, if he's 19 to 20, to just put him in and try to get him constant at-bats. But we're weighing all our options to see what's going to be best.
Q. You mentioned starting pitching earlier. You guys have kind of add some guys for your reclamation projects, not so sure things. For that role, would you like to have someone more of a sure thing with a proven track record maybe than taking a swing on a guy who bounced back here?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Right now we're looking at a lot of different options, a lot of different guys. Definitely want a guy that we know that could give us some innings. We need a guy that could give us 160 to 180 innings, and those are the guys we're looking at right now.
Q. What did you learn about yourself as a manager last year having a younger team versus in the past when you have a bunch of veterans in the locker room?
DAVE MARTINEZ: You know what, I know that I have patience, but last year I learned a whole lot more patience. You know what, though, I sat back, and I often caught myself laughing at some of the things that we've done and the fact that I love the guys, the way they play, with the energy these guys had every day.
So I'm looking forward to watching these guys grow and mature, and it will be a lot of fun for all of us. It was trying. I'm not going to say. I've been on teams where we win quite a bit. Losing like that wasn't fun. But I don't think anybody had fun in that clubhouse.
That's one of the big takeaways I took at my exit meetings is all those guys were disappointed with losing so many games. They want to get better. They want to compete.
Q. What's your off-season style as a manager? Do you talk to the players a lot? Do you let them do their own thing?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I let them do their own thing for a while, and then I start talking to them now and let them know. For the most part, I'm getting videos of them hitting, working out. They send me all this stuff.
So it's pretty cool to watch these guys. I could tell you now, I've seen Lane Thomas already hitting on the field and working on trying to stay on the ball, hitting the ball into right center field.
It's kind of nice that these guys really took it to heart about being ready. Like I said, being ready day one of Spring Training and make that our Opening Day so that we can work on baseball stuff and not worry about getting ready physically.
Q. Who's been like really enthusiastic to show you "look at what I'm working on"?
DAVE MARTINEZ: All of them. Keibert has been hitting. Luis looks great. Luis lost about nine pounds of body fat. 9 percent of body fat. He looks really good. He took it to heart he needs to be more agile. He needs to be quicker on his feet. He looks great.
Victor is playing winter ball. He's doing really well. Working on some of the things that Darnell wanted to work on, and I think Darnell is actually headed over there this coming week to go watch him play a little bit and talk to him.
We've got some things going on. We're definitely invested in all our players.
Q. How does a more agile Luis Garcia impact the way your infield looks?
DAVE MARTINEZ: It will be awesome. He's got good hands. We talked a lot about having his first step, and we think this will help him out a lot. It's also going to help him run a little bit better.
As I told Luis, you definitely got some pop in your bat, but right now let's just worry about the chases and putting the ball in play. You hit the ball hard when you do hit it using the whole field. If you could hit 40 doubles, the results are going to be you're probably hitting 20 home runs in the meantime.
So that's something that I wanted to work on this winter.
Q. Is it more important with not as much shifting too?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He's got to cover a lot, yeah. Honestly, if you look at the other side, I think it's going to help our hitting out as well with CJ and Luis and even Jeimer, who I've known, who does hit the ball a lot in that hole. I think it's going to help him out a lot as well.
Q. Going through the off-season, any moves you guys make, thinking about the rule changes and how they might fit in better than maybe a year ago, maybe you wouldn't have thought this is the guy to go after?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Exactly. We had a list of nine, ten guys that we thought could fit, and we looked at Jeimer and his numbers and the amount of ground balls he did hit to the pull side, and we thought, hey, it could definitely help him.
Here's a guy that he's hit doubles before. Last year after talking to him for a while, he got caught up in really trying to hit home runs, and I told him, I said, let's get you back to using the whole field, and good things will happen.
Q. Davey, you talk about Victor playing winter ball. Your general opinion about over the years how winter ball can help a guy. Each situation is different, and you played about 35 years ago.
DAVE MARTINEZ: Thanks (laughter).
Q. As a man of experience in winter ball, your general opinion about how it can help certain guys, whether they're prospects or even some young veterans like Victor.
DAVE MARTINEZ: Look, I'll be the first one to tell you it helped me out a lot. I talk about it all the time. I started my career, and I hit .139 in the Big Leagues. Dallas Green said, What are you going to do this winter? I said, I'm going to go home and work out, get stronger. And he said, No, you're going to go to winter ball. Play winter ball, and it's going to help you.
And I did, and it really did help me. It helped me know a lot about myself. I worked a lot on just trying to get on base. I really knew what kind of balls, what balls I can hit, and it prepared me a lot better.
The next year I ended up hitting the ball really well and doing well. For these guys, I encourage these guys to go play winter ball, especially young guys, because it definitely does help them. Definitely helps them how to understand how to hit breaking balls a little better because they do throw a lot of breaking balls there. It does help them just get them to understand themselves.
The more baseball you play, the more you're on the field, you get to understand who you are and what you can be.
Q. What the team you speak to in free agency this off-season?
DAVE MARTINEZ: The one thing I'd say is we're adding some starting pitching and probably adding another left-handed bat. I think, if we can do that, and fill in some of the areas that we need to get filled in.
Q. Does that bat fit into the outfield most likely, or do you think there are enough moving parts you could do it different ways?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I think we have enough moving parts we could do different things. I'd like a guy that could be versatile, if possible.
So we'll see. We're kind of weighing all the options of what we want to do, whether it's an outfielder or we could platoon with -- one could be Stone Garrett that we got from Arizona that we kind of like the way he swings the bat. Or it could be an infielder that we find out there that we can get. Like I said, he can hit righty really well.
Q. Sounds like you're willing to put Joey wherever the need is in the field. Is that an accurate way to look at it? Or do you say, no, he's best at this position?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I'd really like to keep Joey at first base, and the days that he doesn't, DH him to give him a breather. I know he's a rookie, but he's an older rookie. His days off probably would be DH'ing, if we could find someone who could possibly play first base and play some left field, that would be great.
Q. On that note, I was going to ask about the DH position. How big of a priority as a manager is that for you?
DAVE MARTINEZ: We definitely would like to have one, but like I said, I think we have enough moving parts, if we had to platoon two guys, we could do it. It would be nice to have a big bat in our lineup.
Q. The bullpen was so effective last year, but they were also really overworked. What are you going to be looking for just to keep that level of efficiency from them or perhaps even improve it?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Like I said, I think we got -- our starting pitchers have got to go deeper in games. They really do. If they can do that, I think our bullpen is going to be really, really good again.
These guys endured a lot last year, and they pitched a lot. We made -- unfortunately, we made a lot of guys one inning-plus guys, which definitely helps. Not just us, but around the league we've seen that a lot.
There's going to be a lot -- we talked a lot this winter about guys we can maybe do that with, that can help us. Whether they were starters before, and we're going to make them long guys. When we go to Spring Training, we'll definitely have a plan what guys can really help us out in the bullpen going multiple innings.
I think it's going to be important because you never know, right? I think with Josiah, Cade comes in, with MacKenzie Gore, and even Corbin, who to me is going to be our workhorse. He takes the ball five days. I think those guys need to understand that it's not just five innings. We need them to go six-plus innings and be consistent, throwing 100, 105 pitches.
Q. Have you mentioned those guys earlier you wanted to work on the chase race, what stood out?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I think once that chase rate went down, they hit the ball fairly hard. For guys like CJ, as we talked about, if he gets on base for us, with his speed, he could make things happen on the bases as well.
So I think he finally understood that a little bit better, and it's something that he really wants to work on in Spring Training, just kind of trying to get on base, not trying to do too much, understanding count, inning counts.
For me, some of those young guys as well is talk about situational hitting and knowing what to do. Guy's on second base, no outs, knowing what to do. Guy's on third base with less than two outs, we've got to get better at that. We've got to drive in those runs.
If you look at our lineup, we don't have a guy that's going to hit 30, 40 home runs, but we do have guys that can put the ball in play and drive in runs otherwise.
Q. Is that hard to teach at the Major League level?
DAVE MARTINEZ: No, like we said, I thought we were pretty successful with CJ. When he came over to us, he hit .225 for San Diego. I think for us he ended up hitting .260. Because his chase rate went from 46 percent to 36 percent. If we could get him down in the lower even 30s next year, he's going to be that much better.
Q. Why was it important to have Vargas back for the season?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I love his energy. I love the way he plays the game. And he was really good for our younger players, he really was.
When I talk to him about coming back, I told him. I said, You've got to consistently bring that energy every day no matter what your role is. You've got to be that guy. You've got to be that guy in the clubhouse. You've got to be that guy during the game, and he understands that.
I love having him around. Plus he helped us. He did really well. I think he found out a lot about himself going to Triple-A and working and then getting an opportunity again to come play in the Big Leagues. I think he knows who he can be and who he should be, and he did really well for us.
Q. How's Strasburg?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He's coming along. He's progressing. He's not throwing yet, but he's definitely gaining a lot more strength. So for me that's a good sign.
Q. When do you think he'll be ready? Is there a timetable or anything?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I'm not going to put any expectations right now on him. All I can tell you is that he's working really hard. He wants to pitch again, and that's a plus for us.
So when he's ready and we deem that he's ready, we hope that will be sometime this year and soon, then he's going to be like signing a big free agent for us. He really is.
Q. With Corbin, what's been on his off-season to do list you want to see from him?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He's been working out. He's been getting stronger. He's another guy that learned a lot of who he is last year.
Look, this guy endured a lot last year, and the fact that he took the ball every five days, I talked to him a lot about doing different things with him, put him in the bullpen maybe, and he wanted the ball. And I appreciate that from him.
Right now he's still our guy, and I expect him to come next year pitching the way he pitched the last month of the season, and because our defense got better winning games for us.
Q. Has Josiah started the mechanical (indiscernible) you've been talking about?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He started a little bit of it. The whole -- I was trying to get him more, like we talked about, more over his front side, not arm side, not leaking arm side. So he is starting. Until he really gets on the mound and really starts going, you can't really do much, but I know he's working on a lot of hip mobility to fix his front hip, which will definitely help him out a lot.
As soon as he starts throwing, I know Hickey had plans to go down and see him and start talking to him about what needs to happen to get him where he needs to be.
Q. How do you feel about not having the shift anymore?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I think we're going to hit a little bit more, yeah (laughter). You know what, I played in the era where there was no shifting, and I liked it. Hopefully our hitters will understand just to put the ball in play a little bit more, and we'll start moving the ball a little bit better.
Q. I don't think there are too many players around who played without the shift, right?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I don't think there's hardly any anymore, yeah.
Q. It's going to be weird.
DAVE MARTINEZ: It will be nice not to see the third baseman sprinting to right field.
Q. Or towards the stands to try and catch a pop that would have been an easy catch, right?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Or the pitcher running to third base trying to catch a pop-up.
Q. I've been talking to some guys like Roberts and people in L.A., they think they're going to micromanage even without the shift.
DAVE MARTINEZ: I'm sure they are. Who knows? You might see a left fielder playing short right field. I mean, there's going to be people trying to figure out how to do things. There's no rules that offense can't move around.
Q. Outfielders moving, are you having Lane work as if he's preparing for right or left field this off-season?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I told Lane to be ready to play everywhere. For right now, I think he did really well playing right field, but he's a guy to me that could play all three and play them well.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports