Eaton champing at bit ahead of return

February 11th, 2018

WASHINGTON -- has already been in West Palm Beach, Fla., for weeks, posting to his Instagram account from there as early as Jan. 22. He usually arrives to Spring Training early, but perhaps this year, he is doing so with some extra motivation.

Eaton has not played in a game since April 28 when he sustained a torn left ACL that ended his first season in Washington. He has been champing at the bit to get back on the field, and will soon get the chance to do so. Nationals pitchers and catchers are set to report to West Palm Beach on Wednesday, and their first workout is scheduled for Friday.

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Eaton is there way ahead of schedule considering position players are not set to report until Feb. 19. However, Eaton has not seen live pitching in about nine months, and is excited to get back into the batter's box.

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"It's pretty crazy," Eaton said on MLB Network Radio earlier this month. "I don't think I've ever done that since I was 3-4 years old, when I actually started baseball, where you actually get nine months off of live pitching. So I think anxiousness is more ... injury-wise with maybe hitting first base or turning corners, whatever it might be. It's really just trying to get back in the flow of the game."

The Nationals will open their Grapefruit League schedule on Feb. 23 against the Astros. It's unlikely that Eaton plays in that first game because the Nationals plan to ease Eaton into action this spring, starting him off slowly, and building him up for Opening Day.

But how Eaton progresses from his injury will be one of the major storylines for Washington during this camp as the club prepares to pursue the World Series championship that has eluded them.

Eaton's rehab; 's rehab from his own knee surgery; how new manager Dave Martinez runs his first camp; and position battles for the No. 5 starter, backup catcher, and the bullpen will all be crucial storylines to watch at Nationals camp this spring. will be worth watching, as always, considering this could be his final spring with the Nationals. There will be no shortage of storylines to watch when the Nationals begin camp this week in what will be the start of their pursuit of a World Series championship.