Nationals

Nationals

Davey Martinez watched the red flags pop up Monday in the form of text alerts.

His phone was filled with messages when he opened his eyes. Another day of trying to play baseball in a pandemic had produced yet another crisis. The Miami Marlins were quarantining in place in Philadelphia after an outbreak. What Martinez labeled a team’s “biggest nightmare” had occurred, rocketing his uneasiness about this season from high to off the charts.

“My level of concern went from about an eight to a 12,” Martinez said. “Hits home now that you’ve seen half a team affected and go from one city to the other.”

The Marlins’ problem became an Orioles problem, and a Yankees problem, and a Phillies problem, which makes it a Major League Baseball problem. This is the inherent firestarter tendency of a virus the league is trying to keep stuffed in their pocket despite a schedule which sends teams from place to place. Travel, and spread, was the great fear. It’s been realized three games into the 2020 season.

RELATED: PHILLIES VS. YANKEES POSTPONED AFTER MARLINS' COVID-19 OUTBREAK

“I’ve got friends on that Miami team,” Martinez said. “It really stinks. I’m not going to lie -- I’m not going to sugarcoat it -- to see those guys put out like that. It’s not good for them, it’s not good for anybody. I’ve got guys in our clubhouse that are really concerned as well.

 

“For me, this is my family and I worry about these guys. I worry about everybody around us. I don’t want anybody to get sick. So, this is definitely a big concern. I can’t say that I’m not thinking about it, because I am. This morning I woke up and had all these text messages and talked to other managers. Definitely a level of concern. With that being said, we’ve got to go out there today and focus on playing the Toronto Blue Jays. Put this behind us and hopefully this gets resolved.”

Martinez, 55, underwent a cardiac catheterization Sept. 23, 2019. The heart problem scared him. Emotional on Monday during his pregame Zoom call with reporters, Martinez used that word again to describe his current state as it relates to his personal health.

“You know what? I’m going to be honest with you,” Martinez said. “I’m scared. I really am. I go from here, home, back here every day. That’s all I do. I wash my hands 47 times a day -- probably 99 times a day. Wear my mask everywhere I go. There’s that concern. Right now, you don’t know because of my heart condition what happens to me if I do get it, so I’ve got to be extra careful. That being said, sometimes I tend to put myself aside and tend to worry about other people more than me. I think that’s why I’m here because I worry about those guys before I put myself first.”

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It’s that sentiment -- him second, team first -- which pushed Martinez’s eyes from clear to glassy by the end of his conversation. He stated his worry about his friends in Miami, then his concern for his local group and even allowed a minute to think about his personal risk.

Two games have been postponed Monday while Major League Baseball grapples with questions about what to do next and when enough is enough. This week’s schedule presents multiple problematic opponents for Washington. The Nationals host Toronto for four games after the Blue Jays spent the weekend in Tampa Bay and in the home state of the fervent virus spread. Two of the coming games were supposed to be in Toronto, but the Blue Jays were restricted from playing in Canada and their temporary home in Buffalo is not ready yet. To close the week, the Nationals are scheduled to go to Miami to play the Marlins. Martinez doesn’t know if that trip is happening and offered his hope the league “makes the right decision.”

Piled together, his final statement was as much a plea as an answer.

“We have to remember that we're all human beings and we're playing through some tough times,” Martinez said. “I just want people to remember that. We have struggles. These guys have families. I have a family. We think about that stuff. With that being said, just remember that we're doing the best we can.”

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