- The Washington Times
Friday, May 1, 2020

Dave Martinez’s days begin with a long ride on his Peloton. Then, he turns his attention to his 350-acre farm, where he’s self-isolating in Tennessee during the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent pause of the 2020 Major League Baseball season.

He cuts trees. He repairs fences. He mows about 110 acres’ worth of grass. He burns around 2,000 calories a day.

“I’ve had this farm [and] I never thought I’d spent this much time out here,” Martinez said. “It was only supposed to be a winter thing.”

But the Washington Nationals manager is happy with life on the farm, for now, with the caveat that he’d much rather look outside his window and see Nationals Park in his backyard instead.

On a Zoom conference call with reporters, Martinez didn’t want to engage in speculation about the numerous proposals offered for the eventual return of baseball, but he did discuss how he’s handling the extended break and preparing for the Nationals to reconvene and redo spring training before games are played.

The soon-to-be third-year manager is optimistic that there will be a 2020 season and has given thought to what a Nationals spring training session could entail if the league gives teams two, three or four weeks to warm up.

In the meantime, Martinez said pitching coach Paul Menhart put together a throwing program for pitchers when the pandemic began, and position players were given a strength and conditioning plan they could do from home. Hitting coach Kevin Long is checking in with players to see how many swings they’re taking in their home batting cages.

Whenever baseball returns, though, players will need some amount of time for conditioning to work themselves back into game shape. It could mean having each team hold spring training in their respective home markets — and could also involve following social distancing measures as closely as possible.

“We may have to [use] only one field,” Martinez said. “We may have to separate and make groups, whether starting pitchers come in the morning, bullpen guys come another time and then regular players come sometime in the afternoon. With one field, it’s gonna be hard to do. If we have to play scrimmage games, maybe using both dugouts, sitting guys in the stands. All these things are going to have to come into play.

“But like I said, this whole, having spring training in your hometown is all speculation right now,” he said. “There’s no definitive.”

Martinez said he’d be worried about the health of starting pitchers if MLB only gives teams a short time to rev back up — maybe with one exception.

“Obviously if you talk to Max [Scherzer], he’ll be ready to go pitch seven, eight innings,” Martinez said. “But you’ve got to be very careful, regardless of if it’s 80 games, 100 games, whatever we’re gonna play. They’ve still got to prepare themselves to go out every five days.”

While games are suspended, so too is the business side of the operation. Martinez said he hasn’t had any recent conversations with ownership about a possible contract extension; 2020 is the final guaranteed season of his current deal, followed by a club option for 2021.

“Nothing, no,” he said. “Like I said, right now I’m pretty much self-isolated here. I just want to make sure that we’re all healthy and we stay healthy and that there somehow, some way, will be a 2020 season.”

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