WASHINGTON -- Craig Stammen got his start with the Washington Nationals in 2009. For those counting, that was 10 years ago. His first game sporting a red jersey went well – a 5-4 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Stammen started the game and pitched deep into the seventh inning, facing 24 batters and throwing 85 total pitches. He gave up four hits, four runs and a walk before being replaced on the mound.
The Nationals took him as a 12th round draft pick in 2005. He remained in Washington’s farm system until 2009, when he was brought up to the big leagues. His surgery to repair torn flexor tendons ended his time in Washington in April 2015. His return this weekend (as a member of the San Diego bullpen) marked four years to the month since the pitcher has worn the Curly W across his chest.
“Walking through the hall of all the pictures of all my former teammates makes me miss them a little bit,” Stammen told NBC Sports Washington before the Sunday afternoon game. “Also makes me remember to text them to say hi.”
Before Sunday’s game in Washington, Stammen sat beside his cubby and looked around the visiting locker room. This time, his name is not plastered above a locker to mark his red-and-white prestige, but a simple “34” – his number with the Padres – takes its place.
Stammen had a record of 26-24 in his seven years with the Nationals, finishing with a 3.91 ERA. He made five starts and 191 relief appearances. In 2015 (when he underwent surgery), he only played five games. He signed a minor-league deal with the Cleveland Indians in February 2016, then signed with the Padres in 2017.
Being one month into the 2019 season, this is Stammen’s third series back at Nationals Park as a member of the Padres.
Stammen reminisced about his seven years with the Nationals before the afternoon game: “I miss all the guys, I wish I was still playing with them all.”
Ryan Zimmerman has been on the Nats’ roster since 2005, and he is the only player who hasn’t left Washington since Stammen’s first season. Stammen got to see former teammates Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, Joe Ross, Max Scherzer, Kurt Suzuki, Wilmer Difo and Matt Grace while in the District for the weekend.
Stammen said that he recommended restaurants to his teammates this weekend as the veteran Washingtonian while he soaked up time in the ballpark and ate at the clubhouse. While many former Nationals have restaurants that they ensure to hit up when back in the District, Stammen has one particular tradition that’s been 10 years strong:
“I make sure I play golf at TPC Potomac every time I come, that’s about the only thing I do every time I come back,” he said with a belly laugh. “One of my best golfing buddies, Harvey Haddock, always lets me on the [green].” Stammen said that they got together to play this weekend.
“It’s nice to come back to Washington, D.C.,” Stammen said. “It puts a smile on my face being back here. I have lots of good memories. It’s a familiar city, familiar ballpark, lots of familiar faces.”
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