Hitting coach Turner Ward leaves the Diamondbacks

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Diamondbacks hitting coach Turner Ward never signed the contract he was offered in early October and Tuesday he informed the team he was leaving after three years on the job.

Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that a very “emotional” Ward called him to break the news, saying:

From what I understand, it’s strictly a baseball decision. He’s still going to be in the game. I think he might have a better opportunity somewhere else.

Piecoro notes that if Ward had signed the contract last month he would have had to get permission to speak to other teams, so clearly he was planning an exit to at least some extent.

Arizona ranked second among NL teams in runs scored this year and hitters like Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta have thrived working with Ward.

Report: Martinez, Nationals agree to contract extension

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WASHINGTON — Manager Dave Martinez and the Washington Nationals have agreed to work out a contract extension that will keep him in charge of the club beyond next season, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The person confirmed the news to The Associated Press on Friday on condition of anonymity because no official announcement had been made.

Martinez led the Nationals to the franchise’s first World Series championship in 2019, his second season as the team’s skipper.

When he initially was hired, Martinez signed a three-year deal with a club option for 2021 that had not yet been picked up by the Nationals.

After a title defense slowed by injuries and inconsistency during a 60-game season delayed and shortened by the coronavirus pandemic, Washington was 23-34 and last in the NL East before facing the New York Mets on Friday night.

It’s the second game of a season-ending four-game series at Nationals Park.

Martinez was sporting his World Series ring on his right hand when he spoke to reporters via a video chat before word emerged Friday afternoon of a change to his contract.

“The coaching staff and myself decided to wear it for the last week of the season, so we’ve been wearing it this whole week. It’s kind of cool,” Martinez said about his ring. “Come Sunday, it goes off and goes back in its little shiny box. But it’s kind of nice to look down and look at it.”

Asked earlier in the week whether he would like his up-in-the-air contract status resolved before the season ends, Martinez said his agent and Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo had been discussing the matter.

“I love it here. I don’t see myself going anywhere else,” Martinez said then. “I appreciate the family. I appreciate this organization. We’ve built a special relationship here, so I hope I get a chance to stay for many, many years.”

Then he paused for five seconds before adding: “The sooner, the better, though.”