When the Arizona Diamondbacks were in town last month, a couple Cubs players pointed out how well veteran catcher Alex Avila knew the lineup.
Avila played in just two games in that series and he only spent two months with the Cubs late last season, but that was apparently enough for the 31-year-old to build up a cache of important scouting intel.
The Cubs rallied to split that series with the NL West leaders thanks to ninth inning heroics from David Bote and Anthony Rizzo, but the Avila angle was still something that stuck with me after the D-Backs left town.
With all the advanced scouting, camera angles and info at teams' disposals nowadays, how much can one guy like Avila really impact the gameplan?
The Cubs are about to truly find out this weekend at Wrigley with Davey Martinez in town, though Game 1 went in favor of the North Siders 3-2 in yet another come-from-behind victory.
Martinez spent the last three years as the Cubs bench coach before graduating on to this managerial gig with the Washington Nationals. He has spent a ton of time in the clubhouse and coaching this Cubs roster — 18 of the 25 players active Friday played under Martinez.
Going beyond just the players on the field, Martinez has been working alongside Joe Maddon for over a decade, dating back to their days with the Tampa Bay Rays.
"Obviously he knows us pretty well," Maddon said. "Not just me, he knows eveybody in that room pretty well. But at the end of the day, really what it comes down to is Kyle [Hendricks] pitching well, us hitting the ball when we can and catching it on defense.
"It really is about the players themselves. There might be a moment now and then, but it's just that he would know personalities really well. ... It's about your guys and once you get over it and realize it's about your players, that's really what it is.
"I just think it's a great experience for him to come back to Wrigley and managing in this ballpark and managing against the group that he had been a part of. That's the part that's different."
Martinez mostly brushed aside any notion that he could have an inside edge on scouting his former team, but he did allow a moment to be coy.
"They're still gonna compete and try to beat us," Martinez said. "Yeah, I do know them, but we gotta execute. The biggest thing is execution. We can see a lot of things during scouting, but if you don't execute, it doesn't matter.
"It's nice to have some tidbits and know these guys and we want to win at the end of the day. We might exploit some things that I know, but we'll see."
Martinez's first season as a manager has had his fair share of adversity, as the uber-talented Nationals roster came into the weekend series with just a 58-56 record and a 5.5 game deficit in the NL East.
Still, he said managing has been everything he thought it would be and more and enjoyed catching up with former players and colleagues that he won a championship with.
"He's been a big part of my career, because of being around in the Tampa Bay days and everything," Ben Zobrist said. "He did a lot of teaching. When I was young in my career, he was the guy when I would come off the field and I knew I made a mistake, he helped me kinda figure out what could've been done differently and how to continue to grow as a player.
"All those teaching moments for me, he was right in the middle of them and I'm grateful for that. He always had a smile on his face, he always had that bubbly laugh around the clubhouse and everything.
"So great teacher, great coach, but I think everybody was happy for him to finally get an opportunity to manage. I'm glad to see he's getting to do what he's always been wanting to do."