Ryan Madson likes listening for championship talk. “All the World Series teams I’ve played on, in spring training they were talking about winning the World Series,” said the Washington Nationals reliever, who won World Series titles with Philadelphia in 2008 and Kansas City in 2015.
In his first spring training with the Nationals, the 37-year-old right-hander wanted to see if the title talk among player developed organically.
“We don’t go out of our way to talk about it,” closer Sean Doolittle said. “Guys will be watching a game during spring training from the dugout or from the bullpen or something — something will happen during the course of the game and you kind of just look at each other and you’ll be like, we could be really good.”
Washington won the NL East in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017 but the franchise has not won a postseason since the Montreal Expos defeated Philadelphia in the 1981 Division Series.
“Why run away from it?” said new manager Dave Martinez, who replaced Dusty Baker. “I feel like we’re really good. They feel like they’re really good. Embrace it. With that being said they understand, and we talked about it, that we have to stay in the here and the now and worry about March 29 and playing that game before we get ahead of ourselves.”
Martinez was bench coach for the Chicago Cubs two years ago when they won their first title since 1908.
“It’s there, if you want it,” he said. “It’s there. Are we good enough to get it? Yeah. We can talk about it all we want be we’ve got to go out there and execute and play the game the right way.”
With Max Scherzer heading a rotation that includes Stephen Strasburg and former NL MVP Bryce Harper anchoring the batting order, the Nationals have star power.
“The tone is there,” Madson said, “The tone is set. We’re just waiting for the season to get started now.”