By Chris Lingebach

WASHINGTON — Fourteen weeks into Adam Eaton’s recovery from ACL surgery, the Nationals center fielder isn’t ruling out a return in 2017.

“I’m going to give myself the best chance whatever I can as humanly possibly for my knee,” Eaton said this week, per Jamal Collier. “I have to listen to my knee at the end of the day, my knee is going to tell me where it’s going to be a go or not.”

If that sounds like a stretch, that’s because it is.

Eaton injured his right knee legging out an infield single on April 28, and, on May 9, underwent surgery to repair the torn ACL.

In 2016, Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs unfathomably returned from a similar injury, sustained one week into the regular season, in time to DH for Game 1 of the World Series (Oct. 25), less than seven months after undergoing ACL surgery on April 19.

Best-case scenario assumed, that puts Eaton roughly three weeks back from Schwarber’s blistering 2016 recovery pace. Schwarber played in five games of the seven-game WS, with Game 7 played on Nov. 2.

This year’s World Series is scheduled to begin Oct. 24, with Game 7 (if necessary) scheduled for Nov. 1. In other words, for Eaton to return in 2017, he’d have to return at least one week-and-a-half quicker than Schwarber did in 2016 just to make Game 7 of the World Series. Hypothetically.

That rigorous timetable might explain why Washington has Eaton’s return date listed as “Possibly 2017” on the disabled list. The Nats last updated his status on Wednesday with the note “completing light baseball activities.”

“I’ve been hitting, been throwing,” Eaton said, according to Byron Kerr. “Literally all baseball activities in kind of slow motion. So it’s been rather productive.”

“Ahead of schedule still,” Eaton said. “Just continue to try to get better slow motion running. I’m running, but (we’re) not sprinting by any stretch of the imagination. Soft jog. Soft Jay-ogg.”

Soft Jay-ogging, Eaton described as “legitimately not a really brisk pace.” Just for future reference.

“It’s actually more challenging now, because I’ve had really good days where I feel normal and I want to hold on to those days and bottle them up and be able to repeat it,” Eaton said. “Just as any athlete, you always want more, you always want perfection, you always want to be the best at whatever you’re doing and that’s the same thing with therapy … you’re never satisfied.”

“I’m going to worry about putting myself in the best-case scenario,” he added. “Work my rear end off every single day and let the cards fall where they may.”

Follow @ChrisLingebach and @1067TheFan on Twitter

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