Davey Martinez popped into a familiar seat with familiar terms Saturday.
He was on the other end of a Zoom call for the umpteenth time this season, talking about player moves and mentioning his 1-0 mantra.
News of Mike Rizzo’s contract extension hit social media about 45 minutes prior. It was not news to Martinez. He talked to Rizzo on Saturday morning to express his congratulations.
With Rizzo’s situation resolved, next on the organization’s to-do list is handling Martinez’s contract situation. He has an option year waiting to be picked up. Once it is, he will be well on his way to being the Nationals’ longest-tenured manager, no small feat in an organization which catapults managers out with a high frequency.
“I never really think about it, honestly,” Martinez said. “I know they’re going to do the right thing. I do believe that. I’ve had a good relationship with the Lerner family. They know how I feel about being here. I love it. I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. That being said, Mike getting his deal could possibly open up the doors here fairly soon. But, like I said, [Saturday’s] about Mike, and about us going out there [Saturday] and going 1-0 [Saturday]. That’s my focus right now.”
Saturday was about Rizzo. Sunday, when he is expected to speak with reporters, will be also. Once Rizzo’s situation is fully moved past, the remaining days will be about Martinez.
He has been asked about his contract sporadically since the 2020 season began. Martinez answers the same way, saying he does not think about it, and is more focused on his day-to-day work. He said so in spring training. He said it again two weeks ago when asked. He repeated it Saturday.
“For me, you build these relationships throughout this organization -- like I said, I have a good relationship with the Lerners, with Alan Gottlieb, with all the people in the front office and especially with Mike,” Martinez said. “Mike and I are really, really close. As I told you before, I speak to him five or six times a day. We can talk virtually about anything. It’s a great relationship. I owe him a lot. He’s the first guy to give me an opportunity to manage in the big leagues and I appreciate that very much. We won a championship together. All these things, to me, matter.
“At the end of the day, all I want to do is come do my job. That's to manage this team and hopefully put up as many W's as possible.”
Working under contract means life becomes a perpetual countdown. The process is difficult to relate to for those working 9-5, Monday through Friday, as full-time employees. There is always an end in sight, coming closer, stoking wonder about what is next.
Martinez operated under these circumstances as a player for 16 years. He often played on one-year contracts before securing another. His tick-tick-tick status continued when he became a coach.
“For me, the only uncomfortable part of everything is talking about the contracts going into getting a contract,” Martinez said. “Once you have the contract, for me, I can only control the controllables. I do my job the best I can. Even as a player. You play, all of a sudden your contract ends one year. You become a free agent. I don’t worry about that. I just worry about doing my job, telling myself, 'Hey, you know what? If it doesn’t happen to work out here, as long as I have a big-league uniform somewhere, I’ll make it work.'
“But I try not to worry about those things. I try to focus on the here and now. I’ve always been that way. If I started worrying about my contract as a player, I probably would have been a mess. Really. I just focused on how to help the team win, just like I do right now. I don’t worry about the business side of this. I know we’ve got great people who run this organization. A great family. They mean a lot to me and they know that. Like I said, Mike is done, mine should be coming around the corner here soon. We’ll see what happens.”
His kids are all adults now. They understand. Martinez said they don’t bring it up. Rather, they fall back to one of the sayings he uses: Everything works out for a reason.
Dealing with his friends is different. When they ask about the status of his contract option, Martinez skips espousing philosophy.
“I just brush it off and go to something else,” Martinez said with a laugh.
The Lerners have used a similar approach on his contract to this point. They first handled the more difficult of the two situations when finishing negotiations with Rizzo. For months, they’ve been working through a litany of things which can qualify as “something else,” ranging from getting the baseball season started, to the mediocre on-field product, to finalizing Rizzo’s presence.
That leaves one item to resolve.