Playing alongside Victor Robles and Juan Soto in the Washington Nationals’ 2019 outfield, Adam Eaton flew under the radar for the most part, in spite of the fact that the recently-turned 31-year-old, eight-year veteran managed to stay healthy for the full season for the first time since he was acquired from the Chicago White Sox in December of 2016.
Eaton put up the sort of numbers (.279/.365/.428 line, 25 doubles, and a career-high 15 HRs over 151 games and 656 plate appearances in a 2.3 fWAR campaign) that the Nats expected when they acquired him in exchange for pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning.
As he prepares for the start of the 2020 season, Eaton told reporters this week he’s hoping for more of the same in his fourth year in the nation’s capital.
“I just want this year to be the same as last year,” Eaton said, “coming in focused, ready to go, so the more we think about last year, the worse off we’re going to be.”
That was a theme in Eaton’s first conversation of the Spring. Having won the World Series last October, and celebrated all winter, the Nationals’ right fielder said repeatedly that it’s now time to turn the page.
Manager Davey Martinez’s message this Spring has been to avoid worrying about repeating as champions and instead focus on competing for a postseason berth again.
Eaton likes the sound of that.
“That’s good,” he said. “It’s easy. For me it’s easy. Like I said, it’s only going to hinder you to think about last year and the run we made and the start we had. I think the quicker we can forget about it and move forward and be ready for Opening Day and make it a new year the better off we’re going to be, so I like that saying, and I think everyone in here is old enough to be able to embrace it. The young guys will move along and continue to push like we have in the past, and to forget about how sexy we may have felt last year and look forward to grinding this year and like I said being a good team out there.”
Eaton even said that his approach extends to the World Series rings that have been a topic of discussion the last few days as the team gets measured for their new jewelry, which will be handed out on April 4th.
“I’m definitely excited for the ring ceremony and being able to hold that,” Eaton explained, “... that’s something that you’ll be able to have for the rest of your life and be able to enjoy with your family, but like I said, I’m excited to put that away and be able to have it and look back on it in 10-15-20 years, I think that’s pretty cool and remember the run.”
His focus this Spring, on a micro and macro level, Eaton said, is to get his mind right for the 2020 campaign and get everyone on board with the goals the team has for the new season.
“Micro is just trying to get your mind right,” he said. “You’re back to work, you’re going to be with these guys 200-and-some-odd days, hopefully 225 or so with the World Series, and like I said, just trying to get your feet underneath you.
“On a macro standpoint, just coming together as a team, coming together as a unit. We do have some new faces in here, but there’s a lot of old faces that have been here for a long time, so I think we’ll come together a little easier, but like I said, you want to get everyone on the same page early and know that we’re here for the long haul, and we’re shooting for another one.”
Having a good number of members of the World Series roster return makes the process a little bit easier.
“I think that’s something that when we finished Game 7, it was one of those things where we knew that everyone wasn’t going to be back which kind of saddened all of us,” Eaton said.
“Because you’re with those people for so long it’s part of your family and to have 85-90% of that nucleus back is huge and I think it’s going to in turn give us a great turnaround, because again, I think guys are going to be able to hold each other accountable and you know that last year was last year and this year is this year, so I think it will make it a lot easier.”