WASHINGTON -- Among claims from professional athletes are three standards: we don’t look at what is written, we don’t look at the standings, we don’t know what’s coming on the schedule.
Often, these are mere clichés, old items recycled from pre-social media days. Even if they are true in this era, they don’t necessarily mean all that information -- particularly what is being written about them -- isn’t being funneled into their brain by friends or family. They read. They talk. It’s only natural.
Which brings us to the Washington Nationals’ eight-week long bumbling period to begin the season. By weeks six and seven, questions about who would be traded began to percolate. The choices ranged from logical -- an unextended Anthony Rendon, Howie Kendrick, Matt Adams, Brian Dozier and on -- to the no chance, which was where Max Scherzer resided. Toward the unlikely end of that spectrum was closer Sean Doolittle. The team holds a $6.5 million option on Doolittle for next season. The option provides a mere $500,000 raise. The hospitable deal combined with his quality production makes Doolittle enticing for the swarm of teams in search of bullpen help.
Some players in the Nationals clubhouse didn’t want to talk about if they ever heard or thought about rumors this season. Others said they kept that thought out of their mind -- as much as it is possible.
Doolittle was forthcoming on both fronts.
“A lot,” Doolittle told NBC Sports Washington about how much it entered his head. “It wasn’t necessarily like I was seeking out any of these trade rumors. But friends and family would send them to me. It seems like because the deadline is different -- there’s only one deadline -- it seemed to start earlier, all the trade speculation started earlier.
"For crying out loud, there were articles about trading Max. So people were, in a sense, putting us in the seller column really early. You see a couple things and that’s all it takes for your brain to run wild a little bit with some of that stuff.”
Doolittle’s first personal player movement occurred when Oakland sent him to Washington on July 10, 2017. He had never been in another organization. Following his first outing -- a save in which he allowed a walk, a hit, and a run -- Doolittle joked with reporters all his outings would not be like that.
Since, he has been one of the game’s best relievers, further pushed his voice on issues pertinent to him, eloped and settled into Washington’s climate. Which is why a trade suggestion caught his attention once it was relayed.
“I will say it’s tough because you don’t have control over it,” Doolittle said. “For some people, it might be easy to say, ‘Hey, I’m not going to think about it because I can’t control it.’ At the same time, that’s why it’s a little disconcerting, is you don’t have control over it. After going through it once before, it’s not as scary as maybe it was. I don’t know. I really want to be here. I like it here.”
Is his concern about logistics? Again being uprooted heading into the final year of his contract, which could mean further change is around the corner?
“No, it was more about just how much I don’t want to leave.” Doolittle said. “How much this feels like home. How much I feel like I’ve become part of the organization in only a couple of years. I feel like they’ve taken great care of me and my wife -- the community, we love being here. So more to do about the positives of being here rather than the unknown of somewhere else. The grass isn’t always greener. And I like being part of this organization, that’s all.”
June changed the words coming out of keyboards. No longer is the question about retention or dissolution. Washington’s burst back into contention has considerations about who is coming, not leaving, at the forefront.
MORE NATIONALS NEWS: