WASHINGTON -- Adam Eaton smiled when he entered the Nationals' clubhouse Friday for the first time in nearly two months before catching up with teammates and dressing for batting practice.Earlier in the day, Class A Advanced Potomac, where Eaton was rehabbing from left ankle surgery, announced he was no longer
WASHINGTON -- Adam Eaton smiled when he entered the Nationals' clubhouse Friday for the first time in nearly two months before catching up with teammates and dressing for batting practice.
Earlier in the day, Class A Advanced Potomac, where Eaton was rehabbing from left ankle surgery, announced he was no longer on its roster. But even with Eaton back in the clubhouse, Nationals manager Dave Martinez said he wanted Eaton to complete a pregame routine Friday before the club activated him.
The Nats did that on Saturday morning, ahead of their game against the Giants. Right-hander Wander Suero was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse.
Eaton injured the ankle April 5 on an awkward slide into home plate. He then played April 7-8 before the Nationals placed him on the disabled list April 11. He wasn't healing well, so he underwent arthroscopic surgery on May 10, when he had a flap removed in his left ankle.
Eaton missed the majority of last season due to a left ACL tear. Martinez said the Nationals want to be cautious with the 29-year-old because of his injury history.
"Last time we thought he was OK. Obviously, he wasn't," Martinez said. "We want to make sure this time we have him for the rest of the season."
With Eaton off the DL, Martinez will have to manage playing time in a crowded outfield that includes Bryce Harper, Michael A. Taylor, Brian Goodwin and Juan Soto. Harper was to start in center field on Saturday.
Eaton played in five Minor League rehab games, going 3-for-17 with three walks and four strikeouts. Before Washington placed him on the DL, Eaton hit .345 with two home runs in eight games. Eaton has hit .284 or better in each of his past four seasons.
The Nationals called up Soto, 19, in May while Eaton and Goodwin were battling injuries. The Nationals' No. 2 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, has exceeded expectations by slashing .346/.443/.538 with nine walks and nine strikeouts in 16 games.
Taylor and Goodwin have struggled at the plate this season, with .215 and .182 batting averages, respectively. Taylor is hitting .353 over the past week, though, and the 27-year-old has been lauded for his speed in center field.
"It's a really good problem to have," Martinez said. "We have a lot of good outfielders."
Washington held on to all of its outfielders because of the offensive production they provide while Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy are on the DL.
Nationals celebrate Capitals' Stanley Cup
Martinez walked into his news conference donning a Capitals hat and a Capitals 2018 Stanley Cup championship shirt. Before he fielded questions from reporters, Martinez acknowledged the Capitals for winning the NHL's Stanley Cup over the Las Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night.
"I'm a little tired, but I'm ready to go," Martinez said. "I'm a little bit excited, a little of everything. Congratulations to the Caps. They got a nice piece of hardware. It's great for the city."
Martinez and the Nationals have supported the Capitals throughout their playoff run. Martinez has worn a Capitals hat during his interviews, and the players have worn red shirts that read "All Caps" during batting practice.
Fans celebrated across D.C. on Thursday night, as the Capitals' title was Washington's first championship in any of the four major professional sports leagues since 1992. Max Scherzer said watching the festivities motivates the Nationals to bring another championship to Washington.
"It's unbelievable just to see the city, the fans and the team themselves, what they overcame the past few years, what they pushed through in the playoffs," Scherzer said. "For them to capitalize on the Cup and win the whole dang thing? Wow."
The Capitals and the Stanley Cup will visit Nationals Park on Saturday before Washington plays the Giants at 12:05 p.m. ET. Martinez said he'll invite the Capitals players to partake in batting practice.
"You cherish those things because a city rallies behind their team," Martinez said. "To watch them do that the last few weeks has been incredible. I'm excited about where we're right now as far as the city and sports, so let's keep moving forward."
Kyle Melnick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington.