The new F.P. Santangelo

The Nats opened their season with a matinee, which meant the Monday morning spread in the Mets press box featured breakfast food.

Now, for many sports media types, this is the winningest of wins. I’ll never forget those Sunday mornings in Philadelphia before 1 p.m. Redskins-Eagles games. You’ve never had such fluffy press-box omelets.

But F.P. Santangelo looked at the choices — the bacon and sausage, the eggs and hash browns — and knew what he needed to do. So he left the press box, walked down into the Citi Field concourse, and bought a salad.

If you haven’t watched much MASN yet this week, you might have missed this, but the Nats’ color man has a new look. He dropped more than 20 pounds during the offseason, going from about 190 to less than 170. He overhauled his diet, embracing homemade vegetable juice and organic everything and eliminating almost all meat and alcohol from his routine. He began working out, buying a road bike and running more than 100 miles a month. He had to have all his suits altered before returning to television, and ordered a raft of new shirts and suits to fit his new figure.

And he’s kind of having the time of his life.

“I just decided to make a lifestyle change,” he told me from New York, while drinking a green juice, a day after logging six miles in Central Park. “I want everybody to feel like this. It’s amazing. You have energy throughout the day, you feel good throughout the day, and I can’t believe I haven’t done it sooner. It’s life altering.”

Which is why Santangelo is now thinking about trying to share his fitness craze with the Nats fan base. The color analyst is considering launching a “Run Til They Tag You” fitness group that would meet at Nats Park one morning a week, doing group runs and group workouts while welcoming all comers of all fitness levels.

“I just figure it’d be another way to bring the Nats community together, and also to reach out and help people feel as good as I’m feeling about fitness and exercise,” he said. “I want everyone to feel like this.”

When Santangelo wakes up in the morning, he heads to the fridge, throwing stuff like kale, spinach, cucumbers, celery, carrots, apples, lemon, cilantro and ginger into his juicer. When he goes to new cities for work, he Googles organic juice bars. He’s already been tweeting back and forth with Washington’s Jrink Juicery, which was recommended to him by Nats players. And even with six months of ballparks and hotel rooms and press boxes in his future, Santangelo has no worries about being tempted by pizza and fries.

“I used to make fun of people who did it; now, I’m addicted to it,” he said. “It’s a way of life. It’s my lifestyle now.”

As for his imagined fitness group, it all fits in with his love of Washington and the Nats community. Santangelo lives a couple blocks from Nats Park during the season, and is thinking of moving to Washington full-time. He heard that Harry Kalas used to wander the concourse greeting fans, so he’s tried to do that a couple times a homestand. He said he feels more appreciated now — more embraced by a fan base — than he ever did during his playing career. And he figures anything he can do to increase his interactions with fans will only help that connection.

“I came at the right time. Baseball’s so pure and organic right now in the nation’s capital,” he said. “The response around town has been flattering, overwhelming, humbling, however you want to put it. I feel like I’ve found a home.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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