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Gerardo Parra helped make the Nationals weird and in a good way

Gerardo Parra helped make the Nationals weird and in a good way

Championships have a tendency to make legends out of the otherwise obscure and Gerardo Parra seems like a safe bet to fall in that category. While his memory will fade over time among casual baseball circles, he will never be forgotten by generations of Washington fans.

There are some obvious names who will be tied to the Nationals winning the 2019 World Series for decades to come; names like Stephen Strasburg, Juan Soto and Max Scherzer. But how far down the list do you have to go to find Parra?

Not far, that's for sure. And this is a player who had one hit in six at-bats during the entire postseason run.

Parra signed a contract with the Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo, Japan on Wednesday, ending his time with the Nationals and possibly his major league career as well. Surely, there were Nationals fans who wanted him back, and perhaps the Nats themselves had some level of interest, but Parra struck quickly this offseason to get a more lucrative contract in Japan than he likely would have received from any team in the majors.

That provides an opportunity to pause and appreciate Parra's impact on the first World Series-champion D.C. baseball team in 95 years. Before we get to his effect on clubhouse chemistry, let's first consider the fact he was actually very good on the field as well.

The Nationals brought Parra in after he was let go by the San Francisco Giants and he proved to be a crucial piece as they battled injuries early in the season to first stabilize and then take off on a run towards the playoffs.

Parra hit a grand slam against the Dodgers in his second game for the Nationals and then, from May 11 to Aug. 12, he hit .290, slugged .516 and held an .849 OPS with six homers and 31 RBI in 124 at-bats. He also started 12 games at first base despite being an outfielder by trade, back when Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Adams were both hurt. 

In fact, Parra officially played seven different positions for the Nats this season: first base, second base, third base, left field, center field, right field and pitcher. Yes, on Aug. 8 against the Diamondbacks, Parra faced five batters and threw 25 pitches in the eighth inning of a blowout loss.

It didn't go well, as he gave up five runs that day, but Parra's ability to step in wherever the Nats needed him went a long way towards helping them turn their season around. Really, there is an argument he is the best midseason position player pick-up in Mike Rizzo's tenure as Nationals general manager.

Parra's influence on the clubhouse, however, was his greatest asset, as our Nationals Insider Todd Dybas detailed this week. Parra helped bring more fun to the Nats with his antics. He would ride into work on a scooter, sometimes blowing a whistle. In the dugout, he would wear tinted glasses and inspire group hugs for Strasburg. And his choice of 'Baby Shark' as his walk-up song created a theme for fans that lasted through the World Series and beyond.

Those efforts to lighten the mood went a long way and Parra was pivotal in relaxing a clubhouse that needed it, especially when they had a losing record mid-year and had to dig themselves out of a hole to make the playoffs. Once they got to the postseason, they handled pressure better than any Nats team had before, and that is probably not a coincidence.

Parra became so synonymous with positive clubhouse energy that his name is likely to be invoked many times in the coming years when the Nats sign or trade for role players. People will ask 'is he the next Gerardo Parra?' And when things aren't going well and the Nats are playing tight, expect some to say 'they need a Gerardo Parra.'

Parra's impact in that way was not only unique to the Nationals, but it created a fun distinction for the city of Washington by relation. Many people view D.C. as buttoned-up and corporate, but with Parra driving the bus the Nats were certifiably one of the bizarre teams that has ever won a championship. 

There is no question Parra was a key ingredient to a special season for the Nationals and for D.C. Now he is off to Japan as the Nats ponder how to replace a guy who in some ways was irreplaceable.

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Max and Erica Scherzer announce ‘Nats for Masks’ initiative

Max and Erica Scherzer announce ‘Nats for Masks’ initiative

Max Scherzer and his wife, Erica, have announced the formation of a new organization called 'Nats for Masks' that will help provide masks to underprivileged and at-risk populations in DMV area.

As part of the initiative, the Scherzers will auction off some of their personal collection of memorabilia to support COVID-19 relief efforts in the DMV. Some of the auction items available included autographed game-used jerseys, caps, and even Max’s 2019 All-Star Game nameplate.

Giving back to the community is nothing new to the Scherzer family. As animal lovers, back in 2017 during the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the Scherzer’s rallied to cover adoption fees for all animals at the Washington-based Humane Rescue Alliance in order to make space for animals brought in from Houston.

Erica is also on the Board of Directors of the Humane Rescue Alliance, and Max has also contributed in the past in a PSA to raise awareness for the shelter.

https://twitter.com/HumaneRescue/status/861982319892193284?s=20

As if we needed another reason to adore the Scherzer family and what they do for our community, just add this to the list.

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Stephen Strasburg will start for Nationals Sunday against Orioles

Stephen Strasburg will start for Nationals Sunday against Orioles

Davey Martinez said Friday that Stephen Strasburg will start Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles.

Strasburg has yet to pitch this season because of a right wrist impingement which led to a nerve problem in his right hand. He missed his first start, slated for the second game of the season on July 25, then what would have been his second start five days later. Strasburg said his hand was falling asleep in the middle of the night. The Nationals medical staff needed to give Strasburg multiple injections in his hand in order to help the pain subside.

RELATED: IS NATIONALS VS. ORIOLES A TRUE RIVALRY?

He threw a heavy bullpen session Wednesday before throwing 32 pitches in a simulated game. Martinez said Strasburg felt well during the simulated game, so instead of continuing, they had him stop in order to throw 70-plus pitches Sunday against Baltimore.

"The tingling in his thumb is gone," Martinez said Friday. "That's a good sign. We watched him, like I said, he's thrown some really good [bullpen sessions]. That was the big thing for me. Nothing in his mechanics has changed. Everything's good. Based on conversations with him, he feels good. He wants to pitch. He's ready to pitch on Sunday."

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Max Scherzer left his Wednesday start after just an inning because of a hamstring "tweak" from the day before when he was running sprints. He was expected to play catch Friday. Martinez labeled him "day-to-day."

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