Eaton accepting slow build to Opening Day

February 27th, 2018

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- has been a full participant during Nationals workouts this spring, running around during outfield drills and live batting practice sessions, going through conditioning and blending in with the rest of the outfielders. He has not been limited during workouts at all as he continues his rehab from a torn ACL.
His only limitation so far, however, has been actually playing in Grapefruit League games. Eaton has still yet to appear in a game as the Nationals continue to progress him along slowly this spring. On Tuesday morning, manager Dave Martinez said they did not have a specific date set for Eaton to see his first game action of the spring, but that he has been in contact with trainers every day to monitor Eaton's progress.
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"He's coming along," Martinez said. "He looks good. We just don't want to push him. Our biggest thing is to get him ready for Opening Day, and that's what we're shooting for."
The Nationals entered the spring planning to take their time with Eaton's progression and so far, his status for Opening Day remains unchanged. They expect him to be ready to start the season on time, and Martinez said he has been given no indication that Eaton will not be ready.
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Eaton arrived to camp champing at the bit to get into games, because he has not played since the injury in late April last year. But he also understands the need to take it slow. He wants to be sure he has his speed when he gets back into games and can play at 100 percent without any issues.
"If I get into a game today, is that going to help us get to Opening Day? Probably not," Eaton said. "We're going to take it and be methodical and do it right the first time. And make sure I'm overcooked, so to speak before I go out there."
Once Minor League spring games begin, Eaton could see a lot of at-bats in those games where the Nats have the flexibility to control his playing environment a little more. Although he had an idea of how many at-bats he might need to prepare for the season, Eaton was not sure how many games he would like to play in the outfield. Standing on his feet for nine innings and getting back into the rhythm of the game were two key checkpoints for him personally, before he knows he is ready to start the season.

"He's doing really well right now," Martinez said. "The biggest thing for me right now is getting him ready for Opening Day. That's the bottom line. I told him that. As you know, he's itching to play. But I want to kind of hold him back a little bit. I keep reminding him, we're still in February."