The rest of the staff remains intact, with hitting coach Kevin Long, pitching coach Paul Menhart and bullpen coach Henry Blanco.
“It was about not getting stagnant and trying to give them something else,” Martinez said Wednesday at baseball’s annual winter meetings at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. “Move them around.”
The most visible move is shifting Henley from third base. Henley has been with the Nationals organization since the team arrived in Washington in 2005. He was in the minors for nine years, serving a variety of roles, and was promoted to Matt Williams’s staff in 2014. He has since served as the third base coach under three managers and was often ridiculed for his aggressive style. His social media dissenters took to calling him “Bobby Sendley.” But Martinez never threw him under the bus despite some odd decisions and even expressed support for Henley’s ever-waving left arm.
Martinez said he made sure to tell Henley this isn’t a demotion. Hale coached third for three seasons split between the Oakland Athletics and New York Mets. Martinez wanted to give him another shot there, and, in turn, let Henley see the field from a different angle. Both Henley and Bogar interviewed for managerial openings this fall, and Martinez feels these changes could help their candidacies in the future.
“Once you show all these different teams what you can do, people like that,” Martinez said. “They really do.”
Hale had been Martinez’s bench coach since the start of 2018, Martinez’s first year, and was the fill-in manager when Martinez had heart complications in September. But Martinez was eager to rotate Bogar by his side in the dugout. Bogar and Blanco are the two coaches who Martinez handpicked when he was hired in Washington. Martinez and Bogar are longtime friends going back to their days with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Bogar spent four seasons as a major league bench coach with the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners. He will continue to work with the club’s infielders and remain in charge of defensive positioning. Henley still will work with the outfielders, and Martinez wants him even more hands-on with Juan Soto and Victor Robles.
“Everybody talks about those World Series blues, and that’s one thing we don’t want. We don’t want to be complacent,” Martinez said. “There’s going to be a target on our back, so we’ve got to come out and be ready to play from Day 1. We want these guys to understand that.
“We’re not just going to sit around and say, ‘Well, we’ve got plenty of time.’ No, the time is from Day 1. We’re going to get ready for the season and hopefully do it again.”
The one new hire is at assistant hitting coach, with Roessler coming in to replace Joe Dillon. Dillon was hired in November to be the Philadelphia Phillies’ hitting coach. Roessler, 59, was the assistant hitting coach under Long with the Mets from 2015 to 2017. Once Long departed for Washington to join Martinez’s first staff, Roessler was promoted to hitting coach. But he was fired by then-Mets manager Mickey Callaway after one season and spent last year working in the New York Yankees’ minor league system.
When Martinez spoke with Roessler about the opening, he described the Nationals’ open-dialogue approach. Martinez tends to ask Long about pitchers and Menhart about hitters and maximize the chance to pick everyone’s brain about every last thing. He wants that to continue in 2020, into what promises to be a trying season. World Series hangovers are hard to avoid. That’s why Martinez is already plotting possible ways to do so.
“As you know, my staff is a bunch of baseball rats, and he is one of those guys,” Martinez said of Roessler. “That can help us in many, many ways.”
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