WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are planning to ease a pair of position players into Spring Training to monitor their health as they prepare for Opening Day.
Both left fielder Adam Eaton and second baseman Daniel Murphy are coming off knee surgeries, and Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said this week the plan is to take it easy on them. Eaton had surgery to repair the torn ACL in his left knee in May, while Murphy underwent debridement and microfracture surgery on his right knee at the end of the season.
Eaton has said his rehab is going well, and he is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. Rizzo said this move was more of a precaution to get Eaton's "sea legs" underneath him, so he is healthy for the long haul. Murphy's status for Opening Day is less certain, but the Nats have been optimistic that he will be ready to start the season on time.
Neither move should be cause for alarm. The Nats are likely to exercise caution with several of their position players during Spring Training considering the age of their roster and the fact that position players do not report until Feb.19 with the first Grapefruit League game scheduled for Feb. 23. That will leave about two workouts before games begin. They are also likely to be the only two Nationals players who are hindered at the start of camp. Rizzo said Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover -- who both had season ending injuries -- are both healthy and ready to go.
Eaton has not played since he tore his ACL on April 28. He is already in West Palm Beach working out as he traditionally likes to head to Spring Training early. Eaton could be one of the biggest difference makers for Washington this season, and the team understands it needs his knee healthy enough to hold up for an entire season.
Meanwhile, Murphy was walking with the help of crutches when last seen at the team's WinterFest in December. And although he was encouraged by his rehab so far, he was hesitant to put a timetable on his return. The Nats are pushing for him to be ready by Opening Day, but they do not need him to be ready right away when Spring Training begins.