Rizzo doesn't place blame for struggles solely on Martinez

Ben Krimmel
May 25, 2019 - 12:31 pm

It wasn't a vote of confidence, but it wasn't a prelude to an imminent firing, either.

Speaking before Friday night's win, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said he doesn't believe the blame for the team's struggles lays entirely at the feet of manager Dave Martinez but stopped short from saying the Nats' skipper's job was totally secure.

“There’s plenty of blame to go around,” Rizzo told the media Friday afternoon. “We’re playing poorly. Believe me, I’m like a lot of the fan base, a lot of the players and the manager. It’s hard to watch sometimes. But we’re certainly not going to pull the plug before we’re a third of the way through the season. We’re a big league club, we’ve got a talented big league roster, and we’ve got to play better baseball. That’s it.”

"We’re not making any decisions with a third of the season gone,” Rizzo said. “We’ve got a lot of season left. Davey’s not happy with what’s going on, nobody’s happy with what’s going on, the fan base, ownership and myself. Things got to get better. We’ve got to play better baseball.”

On Wednesday, Rizzo told The Sports Junkies he was "frustrated, pissed at performance and that type of thing," but added he was "satisfied with the energy level, the effort and the fight the team shows every night."

When asked Friday why he didn't say the fault lies with Martinez, Rizzo again spread the blame.

“Everyone’s got their part in it,” Rizzo said. “Management, general manager, everyone’s got their part in how we’re playing, just as we have for the past eight years of how well we’ve played. This is a team process.”

The Nationals went on to beat Miami thanks to late-game heroics from Juan Soto to improve to 20-31 on the season, but they remained 10 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies.

While the bullpen didn't cost the Nationals a win Friday, Washington's relievers did struggle, allowing five runs over five innings, including a homer allowed by closer Sean Doolittle.

Rizzo, who told 106.7 The Fan earlier this week he is "looking for all avenues to improve ourselves bullpen-wise to find help in late-inning situations," said on Friday the solution may be on the roster.

“The stuff is there, you look at velocity, movement and, again, track record and past performance, and they’re just underperforming right now as a group,” he said.

Rizzo stayed positive about his club's chances but left the door open for changes.

“If we play up to our capabilities, I’ll pit this team against anybody in baseball,” Rizzo said. “And if we don’t, then we have to reconsider our options.”

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