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Davey Martinez confident in Nationals' future despite uncertain free agency

Davey Martinez confident in Nationals' future despite uncertain free agency

On the heels of the first World Series championship in franchise history, the Nationals could look a lot different when they open the season in New York.

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The man tasked with maximizing any roster Mike Rizzo gives him is Davey Martinez, who sat down with our own Todd Dybas to address his mindset as Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon headline the team's free-agent class. 

"I wouldn't say you worry about it," he said. "But you build relationships with these guys, and all of a sudden they become free agents and you can sign with whoever you want."

The Nationals took plenty of heat from the fan base after Mark Lerner said the team could not afford to bring back both Rendon and Strasburg. Scott Boras, who represents both players, then cryptically scoffed at the notion in a story by Ken Rosenthal. 

But neither player has signed with anyone yet, and Martinez voiced confidence in his front office. 

"I know our ownership, [Mike Rizzo], we're very competitive," he said. "They're going to do everything they can to keep us competitive for next year and years to come.

"But that being said, I love those guys, every one that's a free agent, I love them all." 

A number of big market contenders have expressed interest in Strasburg and Rendon. The Yankees, Dodgers and Padres have expressed interest in Strasburg, though the Yankees reportedly believe he will return to DC

The Phillies, Rangers and Dodgers are the teams rumored to be in on Rendon for big money as well. 

Sometimes when big spenders are trying to sway free agents away from their incumbent teams, reminding players of the advantages of familiarity and continuity can go a long way. But for Martinez, his strategy is to give them all the space they need to make their decision. 

"They're free," he said. "And that's the beauty of this game that at some point you become a free agent and you get to explore and look around and see other teams.

"They've got a lot of decisions to make for not only them but for their families," he said. "So I kind of let them be and let them decide on what they want to do."

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Nationals, Sánchez blasted by Orioles in another mediocre performance

Nationals, Sánchez blasted by Orioles in another mediocre performance

WASHINGTON --  The Nationals are 4-6 following a Friday night drubbing by the Baltimore Orioles, a team not expected to be remotely good in 2020.

The season’s fluctuations are under way. The Nationals went 1-4, looked listless and were charged with not having fun. They won three in a row to complete the push for an even record. They lost Max Scherzer and two games since. Friday night was particularly abhorrent. They were smacked 11-0 by an Orioles team which had 19 hits. It could have been worse.

“This is just one of those games where you’ve got to put it behind you as quick as you can and come back tomorrow and regroup and go get ‘em tomorrow,” Davey Martinez said. “This game was about as lopsided as I’ve seen in a long time.”

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Aníbal Sánchez has problems. His ERA is 7.84. It, like the Friday night score, could be worse.

He shrugged off his poor start to open the season. Sánchez was more irritated Friday -- back on the mound 12 days after the first time. When he walked Renato Núñez on a 3-2 pitch which wasn’t close to a strike, he yelled, then left the mound to pace. Pitching coach Paul Menhart came to visit.

Recall last year. Sánchez opened with a 5.91 ERA across April and May. He was much better in the following two months, righting his season and helping the Nationals from their malaise. But time for a course correction this season is limited.

“I think the situation that happened last year was [me] out of routine,” Sánchez said. “This is only something you have to handle no matter what. … This is going to happen this year early in the season. I think when you’re out of routine, it’s really hard to see what’s going on. Right now I can see the difference between the games with fans and no fans and all the kinds of things. A little bit something in your mind. At the end, I think I need to figure out how to control my game in all those situations.”

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Sánchez has made 16.7 percent of his starts (and the team is through the same amount of its season). Only nine remain. Reacting to two starts in normal times is not recommended. However, these are not normal times. Much like the offense -- which failed to score for the first time this season -- Sánchez needs to quickly gather himself. However, Trea Turner doesn’t feel the squeeze is on them yet.

“If we do, it’s just going to snowball on us,” Turner said. “There’s no point to. I think it’s more perspective -- more teams are in the playoffs this year, so you’ve got more room for error. More opportunities to make up ground. That being said, it is a shorter season. We need to take advantage of every game because we’re playing some good ball clubs. They kicked our butts [Friday]. Got to be ready each and every day.”

The Nationals play two more games during the weekend against Baltimore. Austin Voth starts Saturday, Stephen Strasburg returns Sunday. Friday opened a 13-games in 13 days stretch after the jumbled beginning of days off and postponements. Martinez said they were happy to finally be starting what a season traditionally feels like. Day after day, game after game. Time and geography lost to the rhythm of playing.

But, the Nationals entered the game 29th in Major League Baseball in runs, then failed to score. The only team to score fewer is the coronavirus-riddled St. Louis Cardinals who have played five games this season. Their starting staff is yet to anchor them. The bullpen has an injury to its most important offseason signing and Sean Doolittle is ineffective. Fixable problems, but problems to be sure.

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Phillie Phanatic returns favor to Bryce Harper with custom jacket

Phillie Phanatic returns favor to Bryce Harper with custom jacket

Despite only being in year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, Bryce Harper's love for the Phillie Phanatic is well-known.  

On Friday, the team mascot returned the favor by showing some love to Bryce Harper with his new custom suit jacket.

Let’s all take a walk down memory lane since it is #FlashbackFriday and relive the moment when Bryce Harper took his love for Phanatic to the next level on Opening Day with this look: a custom olive-colored suit with pictures of team mascot Phanatic scattered throughout the inside. 

This is just a reminder to find someone who loves you as much as the Phanatic loves Bryce. Or vice versa. A bromance like no other.

Now if the Phillies are smart, they’ll make these suits available for the fans. If they do, there'll be no competition for the best-dressed fan base in the future.

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