When news out of Washington D.C. became official that 5,000 fans would be allowed to attend the Nationals' Opening Day, Nats manager Davey Martinez was over the moon.
"Super excited, I really am. I've said before we miss our fans tremendously," Martinez said on Tuesday. "To get some of them back, hopefully this opens the door for the future, but we're very excited. I've said this before, they're the 27th man in our lineup, so we're jacked about them coming back and being in the stadium. I don't have to hear myself think anymore, and that's kind of nice."
Teams competing against each other inside empty ballparks added to the oddity that was the pandemic-shortened 2020 regular season.
Now, Martinez and company won't have to do go through that again.
"It was no fun playing in an empty stadium last year," Martinez said. "So for the guys that did it, they tried to do it the best they could. But having fans that are rooting for us there is going to be amazing."
Fans getting welcomed back to the stands amid better vaccination and case numbers hopefully bode well for surrounding small businesses around the ballpark.
"I'm super thrilled fans are going to be back in the stadium. I know for the businesses around the ballpark, it's going to be huge for them," Martinez said. "Me being one guy that lives close to the ballpark, I like the fact that I can grab some dinner and say hello to some people and have a good time like we once did. With that being said, we still have to remember what's going on in this country. I know things are getting better, we have to be smart about it."