Adam Eaton, like many players, had become accustomed to preparing for the upcoming season by putting in hours of work each day in the field. That annual routine was halted ahead of Eaton’s ninth Major League campaign when Spring Training was cancelled in March, and he returned to his home
Adam Eaton, like many players, had become accustomed to preparing for the upcoming season by putting in hours of work each day in the field. That annual routine was halted ahead of Eaton’s ninth Major League campaign when Spring Training was cancelled in March, and he returned to his home in Michigan.
“It was difficult,” Eaton said. “We were one of the worst hit [states] by the virus early on. I was unable to work out or hit or do anything basically the whole time I was home, except for the last couple weeks. A lot of unique ways to train and make things difficult in the yard and play with the kids and just try to be as creative as possible in order to keep my body in shape.”
When Eaton reported to Nationals Park for workouts, manager Dave Martinez couldn’t tell the challenges he had faced. The competitive outfielder looked to Martinez as if he had been able to train throughout the entire delay.
“I kid you not, I think Adam Eaton has a secret facility somewhere in his house in the basement or something,” Martinez said. “Every time I see him, he comes in and swings the bat really well. He lined out today. The other day, he hit a couple line drives. He looks really good. He looks fit. He looks ready to go.”
Eaton is coming off a championship run in which he hit .320/.433/.560 with a .993 OPS, two homers, eight hits, six RBIs and five runs scored over seven World Series games against the Astros.
Inside Nationals Park, Eaton is able to get back into his preseason routine. The drills have been tailored to prepare for Opening Day on July 23 on a much shorter turnaround than a traditional Spring Training schedule.
“We’re doing a lot of velo work in the cage, so basically off a machine or overhead flips really close,” Eaton said. “Basically, anything to kind of make us panic. It’s easy to hit flips. It’s easy to hit off a tee. But then you add some velocity and some variable, you get that kind of panic, that in-game panic where you’re rushing to get to certain things. They’re throwing anything down there at us that kind of can instill that in us.”
Strasburg ‘on a different level’
Stephen Strasburg and Erick Fedde took the mound in a sim game on Friday. Strasburg threw 52 pitches, and he is slated to throw between 60-65 in his next outing.
“The biggest thing is that he felt good,” Martinez said.
Eaton took his assessment of the righty hurler one step further.
“Seeing Strasburg today was on a different level,” he said. “He seems like he is in July form, and a lot of us hitters are kind of still in the early stages. It was a good test for everybody today.”
One player who passed the test was Kurt Suzuki, who homered off Strasburg. Martinez joked the catcher may have benefited from his extensive intel on his “opponent” for the day.
“I actually think Suzuki knew a little something about Stephen,” Martinez said with a laugh.
Fedde recently had pink eye, but he was able to see well enough in workouts. He is contending with fellow righty Austin Voth for the fifth-starter role.
“His eye was a little messed up,” Martinez said. “But he came out, dealt with it and threw the ball really well, too.”
Max Scherzer is in line to start in the Nationals' first exhibition against the Phillies on July 18 in Washington. Five days later, he is projected to start on Opening Day on July 23 versus the Yankees.
Scherzer threw 48 pitches in his first sim game on Wednesday. He arrived to the mound 90 minutes before the scheduled first pitch.
“He was out there at 10:30 just pacing back and forth, trying to get himself psyched up and treating this as if it was a game,” Martinez said following the outing.
Jessica Camerato covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacamerato, Facebook and Instagram.