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Sean Doolittle says Nationals players will cover pay cuts scheduled for organization’s minor leaguers

Sean Doolittle says Nationals players will cover pay cuts scheduled for organization’s minor leaguers

Sean Doolittle tweeted late Sunday night that the Nationals’ major-league players will cover a pay cut minor-league players in the organization were going to endure.

The minor-league stipend was being reduced from $400 a week to $300 a week by the organization. Doolittle said the big-leaguers will close the gap.

“After hearing that Nationals minor league players are facing additional pay cuts, the current members of the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball club will be coming together and committing funds to make whole the lost wages from their weekly stipends," he tweeted.

“All of us were minor leaguers at one point in our careers and we know how important the weekly stipends are for them and their families during these uncertain times.

“Minor leaguers are an essential part of our organization and they are bearing the heaviest burden of this situation as their season is likely to be cancelled. We recognize and want to stand with them and show our support.”

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The Nationals’ decision to reduce the weekly stipend for minor-league players ran counter to their original assertion that they would not -- as well as to what some other teams in the league are doing. Mike Rizzo, who was a minor-league player and an area scout trying to make ends meet at the start of his career, has a personal understanding of the process. He said on March 20 the Nationals would be protecting the minor-league salaries as agreed upon across the sport.

“In addition, very, very glad to see that Major League Baseball is beginning to take care of minor league players,” Rizzo said then. “That's something that we were certainly prepared to do without MLB's authority, if it came to that. We did want to wait to see what Major League Baseball would do for us to make our move. These minor-league players are not only of great importance to Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals -- these are the next star players for the Nationals; these are the next union members for the MLBPA.”

In the end, the current union members had to step in to make sure the stipends were maintained when a decision seemingly above Rizzo was made.

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Nats' Eric Thames thanks cornhole for helping him perfect his underhand tosses during quarantine

Nats' Eric Thames thanks cornhole for helping him perfect his underhand tosses during quarantine

Like many other professional athletes, Nationals infielder Eric Thames did not have the proper equipment in his home to stay in shape during quarantine. Thames spoke to local reporters in May and said then that hitting off a tee was the only hitting activity he was able to do, meaning no soft toss or live batting practice.

However, the slugger did have one item in his home that unintentionally kept him in shape: cornhole.

By playing "hours of cornhole," Thames perfected his underhand toss, which is something he usually has to do multiple times in a game as a first baseman. 

On Thursday, Thames posted an Instagram picture of him during workouts at Nationals Park, underhand tossing the ball to one of the team's pitchers during pitcher fielding practice (PFP).

"Hours of quarantine cornhole definitely paying off in PFPs!' Thames wrote. "Only a few weeks to go til it’s game time."

The Nationals returned to their home stadium earlier this week to begin 'summer camp' workouts, as the 2020 MLB season is scheduled to begin on July 23. 

RELATED: THAMES OPTIMISTIC ABOUT MLB RETURN AFTER SEEING KBO MODEL

Last week, Thames said that despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, he's optimistic that baseball can work.

"The MLB has a strong safety protocol so we're all going to follow that. Baseball can work," Thames said. "We all need it, as players, the fans and the world. It definitely needs something to watch right now. So, we're chomping at the bit."

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Nationals’ Davey Martinez says World Series rings were ‘definitely worth the wait’

Nationals’ Davey Martinez says World Series rings were ‘definitely worth the wait’

When the Nationals arrived at the ballpark Thursday, they expected another normal day of practice—well, about as normal as a practice that is social-distancing compliant and held in the midst of a global pandemic can be. But Thursday proved to be special, as the players opened their lockers only to find that their World Series rings had finally arrived.

The Nationals were originally supposed to receive their rings April 4 as part of a ceremony in front of a sold-out crowd at Nationals Park. However, those plans were canceled after the coronavirus pandemic forced MLB to delay the start of the season. The organization then decided to unveil the design May 24 and distribute the rings to a select few players but changed course when clubhouse leaders expressed that they wanted the team to receive them all together.

A little over eight months after the Nationals paraded down Constitution Avenue celebrating their title, manager Davey Martinez stood in the corner of the clubhouse and watched as his players finally had the chance to open the rings they had earned.

RELATED: SEAN DOOLITTLE SHOW OFF HIS WORLD SERIES RING USING ‘LORD OF THE RINGS’ BOOK

“I’m still smiling about it,” Martinez said in a Zoom press conference. “It was definitely worth the wait. We waited a while to get these things on our finger but…it’s all about the work we put in to this, the players, the way we did it, the way the players did it. Just means a lot to me, means a lot to my family. Proud to be wearing this thing today and we’re here again to hopefully get another one.”

With no fans expected to be in the stands for the 2020 season, the Nationals have opted to wait before raising their World Series banner. Martinez is hopeful that by the time the D.C. faithful is let back into the ballpark, the Nationals will have two banners that need raising.

“It’s definitely sad that we couldn’t have the fans here with us,” Martinez said. “Our fans are our 26th man. They were there through thick and thin with us all year long. But I’ve always said this: We’ll do this again, hopefully with them in the stands.”

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