With 'chip on their shoulders', Nats ready
WASHINGTON -- For the first time in franchise history, the Nationals will take the field on Opening Day not as chasers of the World Series, but defenders of the coveted title. It's a different wave of emotions -- flashbacks of winning it all last October in Houston, a visual reminder from the championship patch on their jerseys, the reality that the Yankees are just the first of many opponents looking to unseat them from their reign.
The Nats explained, in their own words, how they anticipate they will feel on Thursday in their first game as defending World Series champs.
Manager Dave Martinez: "Coming back as defending champions -- and I know the guys, they've got a little bit of a chip on their shoulders -- they like it. They're ready. They're anxious. They've been anxious for a few days now to get this thing going. As you know me, I'm going to go out there, have some fun and try to go 1-0 every day."
Howie Kendrick: "I'll still have the same butterflies I have every year. I think every year we start the season, you never forget that feeling. Opening Day since I was a kid, there's always been those butterflies. It's been fun. Being a world champion, that's a dream come true. I relive those moments all the time. I run into people, I talk to a lot of friends and it's cool to hear the stories. I still get goosebumps and chills to this day. To be a part of that run and to do some of the things that happened, it's truly special for me."
Max Scherzer: "Just a lot of excitement. Everybody's going to have that anxious little bug in them to get going, just because we've been through so much through the past few months. The fact we have baseball going up here in this country, to be able to get out there and show our game off and be one of the first sports back, to go out there and compete during this pandemic. Hopefully we can be a good influence and show everybody how to do this the right way."
Victor Robles: "The big thing is mentally, we're going out on the field thinking as a team that we're not the world champions -- even though we know we are, obviously. But we're going out there with that mentality to win every day, 1-0 every day, and just stay hungry."
Sean Doolittle: "We've got that patch on our uniform sleeve that says 'World Champs.' Going out there to start to defend our championship is something we've been looking forward to since the end of October. So we're really excited about it."
Juan Soto: "Just starting to have fun again. We're going to face one of the pitchers in the league. I'm just going to try to have fun, try to take my at-bats, try to get some runs for my team. That's the only thing I look forward [to], try to take the win to this side, try to win the game, try to win the series, try to go back to back."
Kurt Suzuki: "It all kind of sunk in once you put that ring on your finger. Now you've got a bullseye on your back. Guys are gunning for you. You're the defending champs. You've got to go out there and defend the championship. Honestly, we're excited about it. We feel really good where we're at right now as a team -- mentally, physically, emotionally. I think we're all coming together at the right time, and we're excited."
Trea Turner: "When it counts and you're trying to truly win games and runs matter and situational hitting matters and doing the right thing on the base paths matter, I think you're going to get that adrenaline, you're going to get that focus. I think it will be similar to a normal game, because you saw last year we don't like losing. We like competing. We've got a lot of the guys from last year, and a lot of guys that will fight each and every inning. I think we'll be able to make up some of that lack of I guess energy in the stadium with our own mental capability."