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Family, needy in Lombo's Thanksgiving plans

Nats infielder relishes spending time with relatives, collecting, delivering donations
WASHINGTON -- Thanksgiving is a day Nationals infielder Steve Lombardozzi looks forward to. It usually means spending a lot of time in the DC metro area with his family, which includes his parents, Steve Sr. and Jill, grandparents and cousins.

"We've always been real close. We always take advantage of Thanksgiving," Lombardozzi said. "We kind of go back and forth from one house to the other each year -- whomever is hosting. My grandparents come. We kind of make the day out of it -- maybe even a couple of days. We have Thanksgiving dinner, play games or just hang out. We just enjoy each other's company."

Lombardozzi does more than have fun on Thanksgiving. He helps people who are in need. This past Saturday, for example, Lombardozzi and Steve Sr. appeared at the Nationals Clubhouse Team Store at Tysons Corner Center to help collect donations in support of relief and recovery programs in the areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

It doesn't stop there. On Tuesday, the Lombardozzis helped pack up storm relief donations at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, before traveling to Hillside, N.J., to deliver the items to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.

As a show of support for relief and recovery efforts in areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy, the Lombardozzis helped fill a 35-foot long straight truck donated by JK Moving Services, the Nationals' official mover, with donations collected throughout the Washington region over the previous week.

"I was happy when me and my dad came up with the idea," Lombardozzi said. "Me, my dad, my mom were happy to get the word out last week. The Nats have been great. It's really been a big turnout.

"We have been able to gather anything in terms of house goods, personal items, food and water. I think the coolest thing has been the response we have received from family and friends. Everybody, including my high school [Atholton High School in Columbia, Md.] pitched in. It has been a big turnout."

On the field, Lombardozzi will do anything to help the Nationals win. In his first full big league season in 2012, the player affectionately known as Lombo saw a lot of time because of injuries to outfielder Michael Morse and shortstop Ian Desmond. Lombardozzi played every infield position except first base. He even played 41 games in left field. Lombardozzi never played the outfield prior to this past season.

Lombardozzi was just as valuable at the plate, hitting .273 with three home runs and 27 RBIs.

"I'm blessed to have two parents who helped me along the way and get me where I am. I would not be playing in the big leagues without them," Lombardozzi said. "And to able to be close to home and [share the success] with them, my cousins and grandparents -- the strength of family, it makes it even more special.

"The biggest thing is, I want to go out there and continue to help the team win, just putting up W's and we were able to do that [this past season]. It was rewarding to help this team win."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time.

Washington Nationals, Steve Lombardozzi