For one day, these Nats can be any player ...

May 31st, 2023

This story was excerpted from Jessica Camerato’s Nationals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

It is not uncommon for aspiring baseball players to take the mound and imagine themselves hurling a fastball as their favorite pitcher or belting a home run as their top slugger. Once an athlete reaches the pros, that admiration doesn’t stop, either.

So I asked some Nationals: If you could play a game as any player -- past or present -- who would it be and why?

In this edition of the newsletter, the pitchers chimed in. Stay tuned for the position players’ responses.

RHP Josiah Gray: “I would choose Ken Griffey Jr. Just the swag he had, how good he saw the baseball on any given day, some majestic home runs. I think that it would be fun to have a three-home run game. I’m sure he’s had one of those.”

RHP Kyle Finnegan: “I’m going to go Mickey Mantle. Late '60s, early '70s. I grew up a Yankees fan, and Mickey Mantle was like a legend in my house, so why not be the legend? [I would go] 2-for-3 with a walk, two home runs -- one of them being a walk-off -- a couple diving catches, throw a guy out at the plate. Just a normal game. [Smiles]”

RHP Carl Edwards Jr.: “I’ve been playing MLB The Show a lot, and Bob Gibson has been tearing me up. So I would have to say Bob Gibson. He’s probably one of the most dominant pitchers to ever play this game, by far. The way he went about it, he was like, ‘I’m the king of the world, man.’ He was that guy that you look at and you’re like, ‘He’s good.’ That’s why.”

RHP Chad Kuhl: “It’s hard for me not to say Albert Pujols, just because he was my favorite player. But also to be Chipper Jones, to be a good defensive, switch-hitting power hitter, I think that would be the coolest position in the world. I think I’m going to have to go Chipper Jones, prime, switch-hitting, power from both sides, playing the hot corner. I think that would be the most fun.”

RHP Hunter Harvey: “I’d probably go Chipper Jones. I could homer from both sides of the plate in the same game, that’d be sick.”

RHP Andrés Machado: “Miguel Cabrera. He does it all. He’s also one of the best players we have in Venezuela, so everybody wants to be like Miggy.”

RHP Erasmo Ramírez: “I’d go Big Papi [David Ortiz]. When I grew up, that was one of my favorite teams -- Big Papi, Manny Ramirez and Josh Beckett [on the Red Sox]. I grew up watching them play. And I pitched against him, we’ve got a lot of at-bats against each other. [As Ortiz, I would] hit the bombs, hit the homers, just go slow through the bases and just enjoy.”

RHP Thaddeus Ward: “Nolan Ryan, just to see what it feels like to be that dominant. It was something that we’ve never really seen before and probably will never see again with his attitude and mindset and how good he was. You don’t really see that very often. That’s why they have a documentary about him. … If I could have his fastball, that would be great. That would be pretty fun.”