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Entering the final year of his contract, Davey Martinez would 'love to stay' in D.C.

Entering the final year of his contract, Davey Martinez would 'love to stay' in D.C.

Nationals manager Davey Martinez enters an interesting situation as the 2020 season begins.

In his second year as manager, Martinez orchestrated an epic turnaround. His squad was 19-31 with just days left in the month of May. The Nationals went on to have the best record in baseball for the next three-plus months, finishing with 93 wins and a Wild Card berth. A month later, they hoisted the Commissioner's Trophy for the first time in franchise history.

Now, Martinez enters the 2020 season ready to defend the title -- and also without a new contract. The 55-year-old is in the final year of his contract, meaning there is no guarantee he manages the Nationals after this season.

Martinez was asked about his contract on Thursday during the first media availability of spring training, and he did not appear to be a tad bit worried about his future. 

"I never worried about any of my contracts, as a coach," he said. "I just come out here and try to do my job the best I can."

Although there was a lack of concern from Martinez about his future, he did make his intentions clear.

"I've had an unbelievable experience in D.C.," he said. "Would I like to be here? Yeah. Definitely."

Martinez is not the only important Nationals staffer entering the final season of his current deal. General manager Mike Rizzo, who hired Martinez, also enters the 2020 season with just one more season guaranteed. Martinez has a club option for 2020; Rizzo does not.

Rizzo has been the main person in charge of putting together the Nationals' roster. Despite losing some of their best talent over the past couple of seasons, the Nationals have continued to put a team on the diamond capable of competing for a championship.

Martinez recognizes the incredible job the front office has done and hopes he can continue to be at the helm managing the team.

"I think this organization is definitely headed in the right direction," Martinez said. "I see us competing for many, many championships for years to come."

The manager has made his desires public. The Nationals understand what Martinez brings to the table, and he understands it's a business at the end of the day.

"I would love to stay here for more years than this year, but we'll see how that plays out," he said.

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Astros wade through first boo-filled night of many to come

Astros wade through first boo-filled night of many to come

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The only agreed upon factor of Saturday night’s spring training opener was affinity for Dusty Baker. 

Baker, alone at home plate to receive a ceremonial first pitch, raised his hand to the crowd when announced. Both sides cheered. Those in red stood, some shouted his name. Others on the Houston side could unabashedly applaud Baker. He represented what’s next, not what was.

But the past chased the Astros from the second the ballpark opened. Any Houston highlights were followed by hefty boos. “FOR THE H” flashed on the right-center field video board during the evening on what was supposed to be an Astros “home” game. However, there was nothing warm and fuzzy about the location for the Astros, an experience sure to track them outside of Houston throughout the season.

The Astros were booed en masse since Baker did not play any of his regulars. Myles Straw, Jeremy Pena and Taylor Jones began the game against Max Scherzer. It’s difficult to let Nos. 3, 89 and 79, respectively, have it on the first night of spring training. But, those on the team in 2017 remained safely in the dugout, prompting an expansion of targets.

Before Scherzer began his night, the Astros’ mascot, Orbit, ran across the face of the Washington dugout with an oversized Houston flag. He, too, was booed -- with fervor. Anything representing the Astros was in play since their main facets were not on the field.

Two signs carried by Nationals fans were taken by a ballpark employee. Some Washington fans banged on their seats during the game to mimic the Astros’ prior method for stealing signs. Scherzer thought something colorful had a chance to leak into the setting.

“I figured something like that was going to happen,” Scherzer said. “I got a good taste of what it’s like [when] facing [Bryce Harper] last year when we had our whole crowd going. I thought our fans would boo. I didn’t realize it was going to be that loud when I face Harp. That was a playoff atmosphere. Everything gets turned up a notch when the fans get into it.”

Scherzer threw 22 pitches, 13 for strikes in two innings. He allowed a single and struck out two batters he’s unlikely to ever face again. Otherwise, he was nonplussed to face the Astros in a game rain forced to pause, then stop, after two innings and a head-scratching delay.

“We won the World Series,” Scherzer said. “It wasn’t like I have a vendetta to hold. So, for me, over here we’re just trying to move forward and get ready for our season.”

Baker thought the reception went as expected.

“There were a lot of Nationals fans here,” Baker said. “We had a lot of fans here, too. You could tell who was for us and who was against us. All in all, it wasn’t too bad. You kind of expect to get some. But they weren’t too bad, though.”

So, the night ultimately served as the expected start. Scherzer pitched well. The Astros were booed.

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Astros booed, fans' signs taken in spring training opener against Nationals

Astros booed, fans' signs taken in spring training opener against Nationals

As if this week hadn’t already been bad enough for the Houston Astros, it got a bit worse on Saturday afternoon when they faced the Washington Nationals in the spring training opener. 

The Astros took the field at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and were welcomed by the fans with an eruption of boos. The two teams share the facility, but it was Houston's home game. 

Since 2017 Washington and Houston have shared their spring training facility in West Palm Beach and made it a tradition to kick off their respective Grapefruit League schedules against each other. They will play six times this spring - though Saturday's opener was postponed by rain after a scoreless two innings. 

One courageous fan really got into the act, holding up a sign reading "Houston *'s" that was eventually confiscated by ballpark personnel, according to the Associated Press.

If this start is any indication of what they will face throughout this season, it's going to be a long 2020 for the Astros. 

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