Eaton’s presence atop the Nationals’ batting order has helped slide others into comfortable places, including Trea Turner, who has been relieved of his on-base duties by moving down the order. He and Anthony Rendon have combined to put men on base in front of the heart of the order, which has taken advantage of their presence in back-to-back games of six runs or more.
Manager Dave Martinez has been careful to get Eaton out of games as early as possible, so much so that he hasn’t played a full game yet, though the fact that he has played three games in a row qualifies as noteworthy. Eaton never did that in spring training. He has yet to play nine innings in spring training or the regular season, and he continues to show signs of concern about the state of his left knee. He jogs to his position with noticeable hesitation. He walks with a visible limp. He said all of that is typical for him and nothing to worry about.
“I’ve always kind of old-manned it. You should interview my wife. Because my wife is like, ‘Yeah, he’s always slumped over.’ I walk really slow. And when I jog, I jog like I’m 85 years old,” Eaton said. “But honestly it’s just me conserving my body. I wish you guys had a picture of me before, because I always looked like an old man. But I feel good, I really do.”
But Eaton’s performance plus his hard-nosed mentality creates a dangerous combination for a player who probably should take things relatively easy after playing on back-to-back days just twice all spring — and never three days in a row. Martinez has daily conversations with Eaton about the 29-year-old’s status. Monday’s was brief.
“I didn’t give him a chance to talk,” Martinez said. “I told him, ‘You’re not playing today. You’ve played three games in a row, and I’m going to give you a day off.’ “
WASHINGTON NATIONALS (3-0)