WASHINGTON -- February 18 was the first full squad workout in West Palm Beach, Fla., eight months ago to the day of Friday’s on-field workout during the long break before the World Series.
Since the entire team officially showed up at the spring training complex, 242 days have passed. That’s 35 weeks. The team has taken 34 days off during that span.
Day after day. Flight after flight. A white greaseboard in front of the clubhouse informed observers what time certain groups needed to be on the field. Flat screens rotated through slides with departing bus times. Get up, go to the park, follow the schedule, play, repeat. Increase the intensity tenfold in the playoffs. Keep going. And going. Then sweep. And stop.
What happens then? The next day, when everything stalls with the swiftness of a punch to the face? The season is not over, but the manic run is taking a break. It’s time to go home, if ever so briefly. For the Nationals, this was Wednesday, the first day after the clinch and the opener of a six-day layoff from games. It’s the day which is unlike the others. They didn’t have to come to the park. No workout, no in-stadium maintenance, no anything, really, for almost everyone.
“NOTHING,” Sean Doolittle said of what he did. “Nothing. I woke up at like 11. I took the dogs for a walk and grabbed some bagels from Bethesda bagels. Then realized I didn’t have anything to do, so I went back to bed and slept until 5:30. And then, my wife and I, we had to do some laundry because we moved out of our apartment and we’ve been living in a hotel. We hadn’t done laundry in like two weeks. It was gross. So, we did some laundry. Came back and I watched some ‘Stranger Things.’”
Doolittle’s answer of course included a tangent and demanded a follow-up. Why was he in a hotel?
“Just the way our lease was set up.”
You, a multi-millionaire, couldn’t extend it? Or pay to have the laundry picked up, for that matter?
“We got a good deal on the apartment and we didn’t have to put a security deposit down,” Doolittle said. “But, they said Sept. 30 you’ve got to be out of there. The last week of the season was a little bit crazy, but it’s all good.”
Count Ryan Zimmerman and Davey Martinez among those who followed a portion of Doolittle’s plan. Unlike him, they have their living residence in order. But, they, too, found themselves a bit lost without a game or schedule, and also exhausted.
“I did nothing,” Zimmerman said. “I woke up and had some breakfast before my family left and went back to sleep until like 2:30 in the afternoon. Woke up, hung around the house with the girls. I think we watched a movie or something. It was rainy that day? Wasn’t it? Then we ordered Chinese food and I went to sleep. It was epic.”
“Wednesday, I was kind of numb,” Martinez said. “I didn’t do anything on Wednesday. As a matter of fact, by the time I settled in, it was 6 o’clock in the morning. I slept until 3. Had some dinner. Went back to bed. That’s how I spent my Wednesday.”
Friday, they were all back on the field. Washington held a light workout and took batting practice. More is to come over the weekend, however it will be conducted in private. The Nationals’ only workout session open to the media occurred Friday afternoon in a cool and breezy Nationals Park. They will simulate a game over the weekend before flying to Houston on Monday morning or venturing up to New York for World Series Media Day.
The nothing day, so rare and fleeting, has passed. Work has begun again, this time with clean laundry in Doolittle's hotel room.
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