With the Jayson Werth era over in Washington, Adam Eaton is poised to take over in left field, the “hardest position in the outfield,” Eaton says. It’s a position at which Eaton’s played only 36 career games.
This is of course contrary to popular opinion, as Paulsen noted: “You know that that’s the opposite of what they always say, so that’s really weird.”
“They don’t know what they’re talking about,” Eaton said. “Honest to God.”
“Left field, you’ve got to worry about guys that are right-handed hooking the ball,” he explained. “Lefties don’t do it too much. You actually have less lefties, of course, in the big leagues, so hooks are so much more difficult to catch. And you’ve got guys, big ole righties, hooking the ball down the line.”
“As well as being a left thrower,” he added. “You’ve got to turn or you’ve got to spin to be able to get the ball back in the infield. It’s big difference between being able to be faced-up and chest-up and hit the second base or third.
“As well as throwing. I mean, if I leak at all with my throwing, my ball’s gonna go off-kilter instead of being able to leak and still have a chance. It’s second-and-third, being in right field, it’s much easier to throw the ball than it is in left. If you leak at all, you got no shot.”
Eaton, 29, is chomping at the bit to get back on the field after missing 139 games last season with a torn ACL. He was off to a brilliant start in his debut season with the Nationals, slashing .297/.393/.462 with two home runs and 13 RBI in 23 games, before injuring his left knee trying to leg out an infield single in a game against the Mets at the end of April.
The injury occurred in the ninth inning, as the Nats trailed by two runs with runners at the corners — Eaton was hurt trying to make an effort play.
“How much did last year suck?” Eaton was asked.
“Oh, it was brutal, man. It was brutal,” he said. “I want to explain it, but I’ll be here for a while.”
“Think if you got hurt as a kid,” he tried anyway. “Like, say you broke your arm like early June, and you’re 15 years old, and all you want to do is go out and play basketball. And all you get to do is stand on the side and sweat your rear-end off, and have to be itching your cast. That, plus pain, plus not being able to walk — I was not weight-bearing for two months.”
“Seeing the boys really have a lot of success. Especially being traded over, you want to do really well and try to embed yourself in the lineup,” he said. “And I thought I was in the process of doing that, and then, you know, bad things happened.”
“But them winning and having a lot of success, and having a lot of fun, and then as well as for me hanging around D.C. and having my therapy there, having my surgery there and really the guys helping me along the way. Without of course my family, my wife and my little one, and the guys, it would be a lot worse,” he said. “So you have to credit those guys. And of course our staff. I want to credit those every chance I get, because I think if I was in a different situation, I wouldn’t be running around like I am today.”