Adam Eaton, if you weren’t already aware, is a character. Sure, former Chicago White Sox’ manager Ozzie Guillen, a fairly unlikeable dude in his own right, said that Eaton was not all that popular a player on the South Side when they were there together, but in Washington, D.C., the 30-year-old outfielder seems to have found a home with the Nationals.
And he’s just kind of a funny dude. Cutting at times, but honest, and insightful, but most of all, like we said, funny. Par exemple?
Eaton was asked before Game 6 of the World Series last night for his thoughts on Nationals’ first base coach Tim Bogar getting a lot of press as a finalist for the open manager’s gig out in Flushing, Queens, NY, with the Mets searching for a replacement for Mickey Callaway.
Adam Eaton sits down pregame and there is hesitation before a question is asked: “Disappointing, isn’t it? ... You all laugh because it’s true.”— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) October 29, 2019
Eaton, for whatever reason, was asked for his thoughts on how Bogar might do as a skipper in the big leagues.
“I told him when I got on the bus today I saw him on the back of my Cheerios box,” Eaton said.
“He’s been, I feel like, all over the news. Kind of in our face. It’s part of kind of what we do.
“You hope that everybody in this game just goes up from there and works to a better position in their mind, whatever can benefit their family,” he added.
“And good for him. Hopefully -- like I said, whatever can benefit his family and going forward he can make happen. We’re happy for him and his opportunities.”
Eaton also talked about Max Scherzer, who was scratched from Game 5 of the World Series with a nerve issue in his neck, but received a cortisone shot that alleviated the pain and had him back throwing once the team arrived in Houston for Game 6.
“Did he have a neck brace on? No?” Eaton asked when told Scherzer was throwing in the outfield.
Scherzer, according to his manager, Davey Martinez, was fitted with a neck brace for the flight to Texas, and given a first class seat, but Eaton was just needling his teammate, for whom he had genuine empathy.
“I feel so bad for that man,” Eaton said. “You want to talk about a guy that absolutely puts everything in his work, into just his life of just baseball. I don’t know how he’s ever going to function outside of baseball because he’s literally part of baseball in the sense of how he -- everything he does is wrapped around his starts, his work. And it’s, just like I said, my heart goes out to him. My heart hurts for him.
“Like we’ve discussed many times before, we’re a family here, and we truly believe that.
“All of us guys know that if he could take the ball in any way, shape or form, he would.
“Sad to see it. Like I said, our heart goes out to him.”
And if the Nationals managed to win Game 6, and Scherzer actually took the mound in a Game 7?
“They’d probably make a movie about it, I bet, if he could,” Eaton joked. “He could come back from the dead.”
The story of the 2019 Nationals, who started 19-31 in the first 50 games, went 74-38 the rest of the way, earning a spot in the Wild Card Game, which they won, obviously, before taking the NLDS and NLCS to earn a spot in the World Series, would probably make a decent-ish movie as well. They kind of came back from the dead, becoming just the ninth team in MLB history to make the playoffs in a season in which they fell 12 games under .500.
So how will Eaton look back on and remember this season and this team when it’s all over and done?
“I can’t answer that,” he said. “I want to, I do. I want to step outside my body and not know I have Game 6 tonight. But I can’t answer that.
“You have my phone number,” Eaton told the reporters who asked. “We’ll talk later.” That got another laugh.
He is also, as we said, insightful, as he was when he was asked about the development of Juan Soto, the Nationals’ recently-turned 21-year-old outfielder, who’s taken the league by storm in his first two big league seasons, with a preternatural approach at the plate, solid, improving defense, and power-power.
Eaton was asked if there was any way to get such a young player to realize the magnitude of what he’s involved in, going into a win-or-go-home game six of the World Series.
“That’s a great question,” Eaton said. “This year, since Spring Training, him, [Victor] Robles, and I have really come a long way, very long way. Spring Training was fun and interesting.
“How far we’ve come since then has been tremendous.
“Those guys have -- Soto seems like he’s playing like a 30-year-old, like his mentality. He seems like he’s played ten seasons. Robles is the exact same way. The poise that both of these guys bring is — day in and day out is remarkable.
#Nats' OF Adam Eaton on Max Scherzer coming back after neck/nerve issue to start in Game 7 of the #WorldSeries:— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) October 30, 2019
"Max, after he’s been almost pronounced dead has now been revived by our medical staff, it’s going to be fun."
“You guys all think what you were doing at 20, 21 years old.
“You weren’t hitting 98 in The Show, in the World Series, I’ll tell you that. We were sneaking around doing something that we probably weren’t supposed to be doing and staying out way too late.
“The poise that man has, I don’t have to say a word to him at this point. His feet must be made of glue, because whatever he steps in it sticks. It’s unbelievable. His motor is so fast. His thought process is so quick. He picks up little things that none of us even pick up. And the communication that he is able to contest to every single day with us is remarkable. I’ve never seen anything like it.
“I don’t have to say anything at this point. Like I said, he’s learned so much. He’s picked up so much. Nothing phases him, as you can tell. It’s like I said, it’s remarkable what he’s done and what he’s going to continue to do.”
After all that talk, Eaton went 1 for 2 with a walk, home run, and two runs scored in the Nationals’ World Series-extending win in Game 6 with the Houston Astros, which set up an all-or-nothing finale to the series and the 2019 season tonight in Minute Maid Park. And Scherzer is starting.
“It’s going to be crazy,” Eaton said, “I’m excited. I think I’ve told many people it’s going to be must-see. Max, after he’s been almost pronounced dead has now been revived by our medical staff, it’s going to be fun. We’re excited. It’s been quite the road, but to end on a game seven is going to be hopefully well-scripted.”