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GM Mike Rizzo 'felt terrible' for Nationals grounds crew after tarp incident

GM Mike Rizzo 'felt terrible' for Nationals grounds crew after tarp incident

Sunday night was one to forget for the Nationals' grounds crew. Washington's clash with the Orioles was called in the sixth inning after the crew was unable to cover the field with a tarp before rainfall made the field unplayable. 

It's a nightmare scenario for anyone working in that particular field. Your job is to protect the baseball field as much as you can from the elements so games can be still be played after a storm passes. Washington's grounds crew didn't get the job done on Sunday, but Davey Martinez and now general manager Mike Rizzo made sure to support their colleagues. 

"These guys work extremely hard and they're so good at what they do, so I just felt terrible for them," Rizzo said on The Sports Junkies Wednesday. "I went down there and tried to make them feel better after they called the game off. We all make mistakes, I've made bad trades and bad signings, [the Junkies] have had bad shows. They had a bad day at the office and their bad days are seen by millions of people.

"I support those guys," he said. "[Director of Field Operations] John Turnour is the best in the business," he said. "He's got a really difficult geographical city to be a head grounds crew member in Washington D.C. The weather is really tricky here and he navigates is terrifically."

RELATED: NATS GROUNDS CREW BATTLING THE TARP IS PEAK 2020

Like any professional, the grounds crew members seem to have learned from their off-game and are working to make sure it doesn't happen again. According to Rizzo, they're already putting in the time to get back on track. 

"[Turnour] had that one hiccup and I guarantee it won't happen again because they're doing drills about it and they're going to practice with how [the tarp] rolls out," Rizzo said. "It was something that if you don't know about tarps and covering fields it's hard to understand what went wrong."

I don't know about you, but I certainly don't know a single solitary thing about rolling out a massive tarp onto a baseball field in the rain and on a tight schedule. Still, of all the regular seasons you'd want to have games postponed for reasons within your control, the 60-game 2020 schedule is not the one.

The Nationals, who already had one series postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak within the Marlins clubhouse, need as much schedule flexibility as possible moving forward. So it's good to see the staff responding in such a productive way following an extremely unfortunate situation. 

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Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says no new contract discussions, but he’s also not concerned

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says no new contract discussions, but he’s also not concerned

WASHINGTON -- Still percolating during this strangest of seasons is the contract status of Mike Rizzo and Davey Martinez.

It’s Aug. 9 and nothing has changed.

Rizzo said Sunday he has not had discussions with Nationals ownership about a contract extension. His current two-year deal ends after this season.

“I’m not worried about it,” Rizzo said Sunday. “They’ll take care of it when they deem themselves ready to take care of it. So, I haven’t given it much thought. My focus is on winning a championship here in 2020. And I think that that’s going to be our sole focus going forward.”

Martinez has a club option in his contract for a fourth season. The organization is yet to pick it up despite the team winning the World Series in 2019.

“I don’t have a timeline [for that decision],” Rizzo said. “But Davey’s deserving of one. He’s earned it. He’s a great representative of the Washington Nationals.”

RELATED: ASTROS PICK UP DUSTY BAKER’S 2021 OPTION WHILE DAVEY MARTINEZ WAITS FOR NATIONALS TO DO THE SAME

The situations carry similarities and vast differences.

Both Rizzo and Martinez can return to the negotiating table with a dash of leverage they, or their predecessors, never had. The Lerner family discarded several managers because the team failed to meet their top goal: win the World Series. Rizzo and Martinez accomplished that via a most-unlikely path in 2019. So, their side of the argument can be, “We did what you asked, now we deserve new contracts in return.”

The decision to pick up Martinez’s option appears to be a simple one. He will remain one of the lower-paid managers in the league, especially relative to his success, and the outcome of a 60-game season should have little impact on determining his worthiness of retaining the position for another year.

The cost would be bargain-basement. Martinez signed a three-year, $2.8 million contract with a fourth-year option for $1.2 million. He would command three times that on the open market. It’s such a team-friendly deal, the Nationals may be well-served to try to tack on two years when discussing the option, let alone promptly pulling the trigger on the option year.

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However, slow-playing negotiations is a common tactic for Nationals ownership, despite the ugly public optics of doing so.

Rizzo’s next contract is much more complicated. His expectation will be a deal that vaults him into the top five of general managers/team presidents in the sport. He has an argument for it. All the regular-season winning finally produced a championship. He’s developed prospects, executed trades well and kept a modern balance between analytics and scouts. Rizzo’s development of the baseball infrastructure in Washington has produced one of the most successful organizations in the league.

So, the Lerners have to decide if they will pay him a large amount for a long time. They have to determine if they want to quickly assure their manager will be back next year. Thus far, they have done neither.

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Mike Rizzo says Max Scherzer plans to make next start after hamstring injury

Mike Rizzo says Max Scherzer plans to make next start after hamstring injury

Max Scherzer is expected to make his regularly scheduled start Tuesday despite leaving his last appearance after only one inning with a hamstring injury, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said in a Zoom press conference Sunday.

“He felt great today when I saw him and he’s planning on pitching Tuesday,” Rizzo said. “We’re not making any firm announcement but I would imagine he’s going to take the mound on Tuesday.”

Scherzer last pitched Wednesday against the New York Mets, throwing 27 pitches in a laborious first inning that saw him allow two baserunners and a run to score. He was relieved by Erick Fedde the following frame and told reporters after the game that he was still feeling the effects of a hamstring injury that he originally suffered before his July 29 start against the Toronto Blue Jays.

RELATED: MAX AND ERICA SCHERZER ANNOUNCE ‘NATS FOR MASKS’ INITIATIVE

“I'm not really concerned about it,” Scherzer said after the game.

“I didn’t injure it any further. I didn’t do anything worse. That was my limit for today. I wasn’t going to push past that limit and it wasn’t going to loosen up anymore by pitching. That was how I was able to relay it to our training staff and to coaches as well and we just all came to the conclusion that if I wasn’t going to be better than what I was going to give in the first then there was no reason to continue.”

With Stephen Strasburg’s return Sunday, the Nationals are set to have their rotation make a complete turn with all five starters healthy for the first time this season.

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