On Oct. 29, news broke that Dave Martinez, the bench coach for the Chicago Cubs, will be named the new manager of the Washington Nationals following the end of the World Series between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Nationals have never won a playoff series in either Washington or as the Montreal Expos, and Martinez will be tasked with getting a talented team over the hump and into the World Series for the first time.
Martinez will take over for Dusty Baker, who was fired after the Nationals fell to Martinez’s Cubs in the NLDS.
Here are five things to know about Martinez.
1. He Spent 15 Years in the Major Leagues
Martinez’s resume is so lengthy that it’s almost easier to list the teams he hasn’t played for than the ones he has. After being drafted by the Cubs in 1983, he worked his way up to the Cubs in 1986. Since that promotion, he moved on to play for the Expos, the Cincinnati Reds, the San Francisco Giants, the Chicago White Sox, the Tampa Bay Rays, made a second stint with the Cubs, went to the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays and finally finishing with the Atlanta Braves in 2001.
During his career, he was an effective outfielder, hitting .276 for his career. Only once, during his second stint with the Cubs, did his average dip below .250. His most effective years came with the White Sox, where he played in more than 100 games in all three seasons and twice hit over .300.
2. He’s Never Managed at Any Level
Martinez’s experience as a coach has consisted exclusively of serving as a bench coach, as he’s been Joe Maddon’s right-hand man in both Tampa Bay and Chicago through the former’s managerial career. However, that doesn’t mean Martinez isn’t well-respected around the majors.
Maddon has openly campaigned for Martinez to get a job running his own team, and his name has been linked to several teams, including the Nationals in 2013 when they instead chose to hire Matt Williams. Williams was fired two years later, while Martinez was in the NLCS with the Cubs and a year away from being part of the team that brought the North Side its first World Series title in 108 years.
In Tampa Bay, despite Rays players saying that they wanted Martinez and his familiarity with the team, Martinez was not chosen as a finalist for the job when Maddon took over the Cubs in 2014. Upon being rejected as a candidate, Martinez resigned in Tampa Bay and reunited with Maddon in Chicago.
3. He’ll Be One of Three Latino Managers in the Majors
Upon the end of the World Series, Martinez will be the only Latino manager in the National League and one of three in both major leagues. The others are Chicago White Sox manager Rick Renteria and Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora, who will become the manager of the Boston Red Sox upon the conclusion of the World Series.
Following the World Series, Martinez and Cora will become the 17th and 18th managers in MLB history to be of Latino descent. Of the 18, Martinez will be the third to work for the Expos/Nationals franchise, who previously had Felipe Alou and Manny Acta, both of whom were born in the Dominican Republic, as their manager.
Despite being born to a pair of Puerto Rican parents in Brooklyn, N.Y., Martinez grew up unable to speak Spanish, which hadn’t hurt him during his life in New York City but quickly became a problem when the Chicago Cubs drafted him and assigned him to their winter league team in Puerto Rico.
Knowing that he now needed to know a language that he had only heard from his Spanish-speaking grandmother, he had his Spanish-speaking teammates teach him how to speak Spanish. He’s now bilingual, having put those past struggles behind him.
4. He’s Tied For the Major League Record for Most Teams in One Season
In 2000, Martinez had to get used to several cities in a hurry. Even by his journeyman standards, 2000 was a year unlike any other for the veteran outfielder.
He began the year with Tampa Bay, but after a series of injuries, the Rays would send him to the Chicago Cubs. After just 18 games with the North Siders, however, Martinez was on the move again, this time to Texas in a three-team deal with Florida.
The trade deadline came and went with Martinez still on the Rangers, and given three moves on the season, it looked like his journey for the year had ended. Instead, the Rangers dealt him four days into the waiver trade period, sending him to the Toronto Blue Jays for Pete Munro.
Martinez is one of eight players in MLB history to play for four different organizations in the same season, a record that nobody has beaten. The only active player who has achieved the feat is Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista, who did it in 2004.
5. He Had The First Hit Ever for Tampa Bay
In 1998, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays were a fairly forgettable expansion team, posting a record of 63-99 and finishing in last place, the same spot that they would finish in nine of their first 10 seasons in the major leagues.
But Martinez might have been the happiest person to be wearing the purple and white of the Devil Rays, even with his team’s poor record. His family moved to Orlando when he was 13, which put him just 80 miles from the Tampa-St. Petersburg metropolitan area. When the Devil Rays formed and he became a free agent following the 1997 season, he knew he wanted to play for the new team.
In fact, it was the second time Martinez had made a decision to try to play in his home state, as he’d signed with the San Francisco Giants following the 1992 season amid speculation that the Giants would move to Tampa Bay for 1993. Martinez might have been the only person in San Francisco who was disappointed when the franchise announced it would stay in the Bay Area.
Given a chance to play in Florida, Martinez quickly etched his name into Tampa Bay baseball history. In his first at-bat with the Rays, he drove a pitch off a corner of first base and into right field, notching the Rays’ first hit as a franchise. He would record 253 hits in parts of three seasons in Tampa Bay.
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