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Why Adam Eaton wanted to tear down protective plastic in Nationals clubhouse

Why Adam Eaton wanted to tear down protective plastic in Nationals clubhouse

The Nationals weren’t in a position to pop any bottles celebrating a postseason berth just yet on Monday night, but that didn’t stop someone in the organization from looking ahead. 

As the Nats embarked upon their final homestand of the year, reporters noticed protective plastic placed above lockers throughout the clubhouse, in preparation of a celebration most expect to come this week.

Players noticed it too, and at least one wasn’t happy with what he saw.

“Don’t bring that up. I’m not happy about it. I’m not happy at all,” outfielder Adam Eaton told reporters after the Nationals’ 7-2 victory over the Phillies. “We’ve had a discussion. It won’t happen again.” 

Eaton was so unhappy seeing the plastic, he threatened to pull a similar stunt to one of his former teammates.

“If I had it my way, I would do a Chris Sale and rip every single one of them down,” Eaton continued. “Chris, I love you. But I’m not happy with that. It’s a distraction in my book, and shouldn’t have happened.”

That’s a sight most fans would love to see, and it certainly would have been one of the more bizarre stories of the Nationals’ season.

It’s not completely unreasonable that the Nats’ operations team would want to be prepared. It’s possible (likely, even) that the Nationals clinch a postseason berth at some point against the Phillies this week, and it makes sense they’d want to be prepared for whenever the moment happens.

Now that the Nats took the first game in a rare five-game set, their magic number is just three. With a doubleheader scheduled for Tuesday, a sweep combined with a Cubs loss would lock the Nationals into the Wild Card Game and ignite a celebration.

With the early start time Tuesday, setting up the plastic Monday afternoon makes a lot of sense. But still, it’s also reasonable to see Eaton’s description of them as a distraction. 

Regardless of the team’s magic number, the outfielder’s focus hasn’t shifted.

“I don’t really follow that. I’m going to go in tomorrow and eat eggs and bacon and get ready for pitch one,” Eaton explained. “I don’t really worry about numbers or games or emphasis or anything like that. I just try to keep it as simple as possible. If we go out there and think this game is bigger than the rest, you’re kind of fooling yourself. And then all of a sudden you’re tightening up and doing things you’re not supposed to do. We’re ready for a doubleheader tomorrow, and we’ll see from there.”

Eggs and bacon sound like a pretty great start to the day. And if everything goes well for the Nationals, they’ll be prepared to end the day nicely too, with champagne, clean lockers and a spot in the 2019 postseason. 

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Ryan Zimmernan’s return to the Nationals is finally happening

Ryan Zimmernan’s return to the Nationals is finally happening

If Ryan Zimmerman did not return to the Nationals, he at least would have a future teaching how not to negotiate.

Zimmerman openly drove down his bargaining leverage for almost a year before signing a one-year deal on Friday to return to the only professional team he’s known, a source confirmed. The deal is reported at $2 million.

Throughout the season, Zimmerman openly discussed his interest in returning and understanding it would be at a low rate. As if his stance wasn’t already clear, Zimmerman explained at a screening of the Nationals’ championship video he would return or play more golf.

“So, we’ll be good to go,” Zimmerman said.

It’s baseball for now. Zimmerman rejoins the defending World Series champions to play his 16th season. He’s a 35-year-old platoon player this season. Zimmerman’s money and legacy have been established. He’s back in the fold to pursue another title. 

And he makes an already old Nationals team older. Zimmerman turns 36 years old the day after the 2020 regular season ends. Howie Kendrick will be 37 years old by midseason. Asdrúbal Cabrera is 34 years old. Eric Thames is 33 years old. Will Harris is 35, Daniel Hudson 32, Sean Doolittle 33, Max Scherzer 35, Kurt Suzuki 36. Yan Gomes will be 33 just after the All-Star break. 

Zimmerman will share first base with Thames and, occasionally, Howie Kendrick. They provide an intriguing splits-based platoon. Thames hits right-handers well -- 23 of his 25 2019 home runs came against them, as did much of his opportunity in Milwaukee -- and Zimmerman has a .917 career OPS against left-handed pitchers. Zimmerman is the much better defender.

He’s back because he -- and the Nationals -- believe Zimmerman’s production remains directly tied to his health. His September and postseason work showed Zimmerman’s bat speed remains intact. He is quietly one of the better defensive first baseman in the league. They think they can protect him. Overall, the Nationals are so comfortable with an expanse of older players because they plan to shield them with limited usage. Also, Josh Donaldson went to Minnesota, clearing the cash and providing a need for Zimmerman. 

Kendrick, Cabrera and Starlin Castro can play various infield spots. Thames and Zimmerman will reduce the other’s role, as well as pinch-hit when not starting. Davey Martinez has options. He also has the challenge of rotating players. One thing on his side: older players know they are just that. Grousing about playing time should not be an issue with the group, the majority of which played as role players last year on the way to a World Series title. 

One other thing to note about Zimmerman: he’s 30 home runs short of 300. Can he get there with another two years on the field? He has at least one more to add to his total, assuring his driver has another lonely summer.

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Scott Boras vehemently disputes the Jose Altuve buzzer-cheating rumors

Scott Boras vehemently disputes the Jose Altuve buzzer-cheating rumors

Renowned MLB agent Scott Boras outright denied the buzzer-cheating rumors surrounding his client Jose Altuve, in an interview with TMZ.  The high-profile agent didn't mince words about the allegations. 

After Altuve hit the series-clinching walk-off home run in Game 6 of the 2019 ALCS, the Astros' star appears to tell his teammates not to rip off his jersey. This led to rumors that he was hiding a device underneath it.

It's not factual," Boras said. "It's just innuendo."

There is nothing to any form of electronic dynamic," Boras told the reporter. "The Commissioner's office studied it. Everyone knows it."

Altuve publicly denied the rumors regarding the buzzer to help him tip pitches last weekend at the Astros' winter FanFest.

Altuve congratulated the Nationals on winning the World Series and believes everything from the fallout of the trashcan scandal will be resolved in due time.

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