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Eaton approaching Spring Training debut

MLB.com @JamalCollier

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Nationals left fielder Adam Eaton is getting "very close" to playing in Grapefruit League games, manager Dave Martinez said Sunday morning, although he did not want to set a specific date for his debut.

Eaton, who is recovering from left ACL surgery, has played in a few Minor League games on the backfields at the Nationals' complex and said he feels good about the progress he has made so far this spring. He echoed the Nationals when he described himself as "right on schedule" in his preparations for Opening Day.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Nationals left fielder Adam Eaton is getting "very close" to playing in Grapefruit League games, manager Dave Martinez said Sunday morning, although he did not want to set a specific date for his debut.

Eaton, who is recovering from left ACL surgery, has played in a few Minor League games on the backfields at the Nationals' complex and said he feels good about the progress he has made so far this spring. He echoed the Nationals when he described himself as "right on schedule" in his preparations for Opening Day.

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Getting Eaton started in Minor League games has its advantages for the Nationals: It gives them the opportunity to control his playing time and at-bats easier than they can in a Grapefruit League game.

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"For him, it's all about seeing pitches and working on his timing, hitting-wise," Martinez said. "It's up to him. If he wants to swing, he can swing. Or he can just stand in there if he wants.

"We can control how much outfield stuff he gets. He can go out and play the outfield maybe one inning and just hit for two or three innings, then go back out there if he wants too. But it's all based on control, which is nice that we can do that."

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Even though he has yet to appear in a Grapefruit League game, the Nationals still expect Eaton to be ready for Opening Day. They entered the spring with a plan to slowly incorporate him into games, and although they have not revealed much about that plan, they say he is on schedule.

Neither Martinez or Eaton would set a date on when he would appear in games this spring, but Eaton did say he would play in a game before the regular season begins.

"He's itching to play some games," Martinez said. "He's doing really well, he's looking good. But it's a progression -- hopefully we'll see him in games real soon. There's no timetable, we're just trying to get him ready for the season."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Adam Eaton