Davey Martinez Emotional In Return To Wrigley Field

Martinez learned a lot from Joe Maddon but is realizing managing is much different.

Bruce Levine
August 10, 2018 - 2:37 pm
Nationals manager Davey Martinez

Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

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(670 The Score) At the tender age of 21, Davey Martinez made his big league debut with the Cubs at Wrigley Field on June 15, 1986.

Now 32 seasons later, Martinez returned to the historic ballpark as the manager of the Nationals on Friday. Martinez understood the significance of his journey as his Nationals opened a three-game series against the Cubs and his mentor Joe Maddon managed from the other dugout. Martinez made his coaching bones as Maddon's bench coach in Tampa Bay and Chicago before being hired by Washington last fall.

Martinez's first season managing has been a trying one, as the Nationals have underachieved with a 59-56 record entering play Friday and sitting 5.5 games back of the National League East-leading Phillies.

"I have a great support system here in Washington with (general manager Mike Rizzo) and the Lerner family," Martinez told 670 The Score on Friday. "I have never felt alone here. We have had some injuries that took a lot longer to heal. They are starting to come back healthy. We will get these important pieces back soon. We all must focus on the here and now. Everything else will take care of itself."

Martinez had a tough act to follow, as former Washington manager Dusty Baker led the Nationals to 97 wins and the NL East title in 2017 before getting axed after they failed to beat the Cubs in the NL Divisional Series. While he has learned so much from Maddon, Martinez is also a different type of leader.

"I learned a lot from Joe," Martinez said. "Moving from player to coach, I learned most from Joe and others like Bobby Cox, Zim (Don Zimmer), Jim Fregosi. I learned a lot about this game from those guys. They taught me about people and what to expect. I appreciate all of that very much.

"What I have learned about dealing with individuals is they are all individuals. As much as you want to treat all the players the same, you can't. You must treat them all different. You must get to know them as a person as well as a player."

Maddon's communication with Martinez this season has been sparse except some texting here and there.

"I am managing against the Chicago Cubs," Martinez said Friday, blocking out any nervous reaction to matching wits with Maddon. "I thought about it last night. I thought a lot about it last night. We worry about the process. I have things during the game we need to accomplish. That's the only way I am going to treat it. I learned a lot in a short period of time, including dealing with adversity."

Martinez was asked if he missed his friend and mentor in Maddon.

"We were the good cop, bad cop -- but I never considered myself a bad cop," Martinez said with a laugh. "I learned a lot how to keep things positive from Joe. I always suggested things to Joe. He ultimately made the final decision. Now I get things suggested to me. That is the biggest challenge. I look over to my side, and there is nobody there. It's on me. Here we go."

Martinez was particularly emotional and choked up when discussing Ken Ravizza, the respected sports psychologist who passed away in July and who was a close friend of Martinez. Ravizza was a key mental skills coach for the Cubs while Martinez was there.

"We lost a really good friend," Martinez said. "Joe and I talked about that. We all have fond memories of Kenny. He taught me how to be positive and process everything. He was a true friend and a mentor."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.​​​