While their team did not go all the way this season, thousands of Washington Nationals fans had the chance to see many of their favorite baseball players Dec. 16 and 17 at the Washington Convention Center in the middle of the off-season.
There were interviews and game shows on the main stage and photo opportunities with players, coaches and team mascots, as well as stories read by Nationals players. Also at the festival, called Nationals Winterfest, were youth baseball clinics from the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy — along with batting cages, a virtual pitching game and ballpark concessions. New this year was a “Virtual Reality Home Run Derby Experience.”
On display was a new version of a Nats uniform: blue shirt, “Nationals” script logo in white, red and white piping, also with an All-Star Game 2018 logo. (Baseball’s All-Star Game will be Nationals Park on July 17.)
At the convention center, players on hand included Sean Doolittle, Michael A. Taylor, Max Scherzer, manager Dave Martinez, Adam Eaton, Sammy Solis and Daniel Murphy.
Here are a few fan notes from the weekend:
Manager Dave Martinez is looking forward to a great 2018. He remarked about the talent the Nationals have. In commenting where he is going to live, Martinez said, “I want to live close to the stadium.” He added: “The traffic you guys have here … I like to ride my bike. Perhaps I can live somewhere close and use my bike.”
All players were very complimentary about former Nationals manager Dusty Baker. They said Baker was a great manager and a pleasure to work for. The players said they understand that “baseball is a business.”
Sean Doolittle is getting married next month in Chicago. He is delaying his honeymoon because of spring training.
Max Scherzer talked about his newborn daughter and spending the off-season “deep into diapers.”
Adam Eaton, who is recovering from his knee injury from last April, said this past summer was the worst of his life, being injured and not being able to play baseball. He spends a couple hours a day in rehab for his knee and is looking forward to playing in 2018.
Daniel Murphy, who showed up on crutches, said the toughest times have been the recent weeks of “no weight bearing, which my three-year-old son had difficulty with,” when he could not play with him or pick him up. His rehab is going well.