“I love you all,” Suzuki said, as Nationals Manager Dave Martinez clapped behind him. “I love you all. Thank you."
“What a job he did,” Trump said as Suzuki walked away. “I didn’t know that was going to happen.”
Before that moment, Trump was recalling one of the highlights of the Nationals’ regular season, a seven-run comeback against the Mets on Sept. 3 that was capped by Suzuki’s walk-off home run.
While Suzuki’s remarks were brief, several of his teammates had more to say when invited to the lectern by Trump during Monday’s roughly 45-minute ceremony.
“Mr. President, me and my teammates, first of all, we would like to thank you for having us here,” first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “This is an incredible honor that I think all of us will never forget. We’d also like to thank you for keeping everyone here safe, and our country. And continuing to make America the greatest country to live in the world.”
Zimmerman then presented Trump a white No. 45 Nationals jersey.
“This is a special moment for me, for my family, you know, for the whole team,” pitcher Aníbal Sánchez said.
“My gosh, to be in this moment with everybody cheering, to be at the White House,” pitcher Max Scherzer said. “What a month. What a magical month. When the city gets behind you, and your teammates believe in each other, and you have one through 25 on the roster competing, magic happens. And what a day to be able to share it all with you.”
On Friday, reliever Sean Doolittle became the first Nationals player to publicly confirm that he would not attend Monday’s ceremony, and explained his reasons in a lengthy interview with The Washington Post. The other Nationals not in attendance were Anthony Rendon, Javy Guerra, Joe Ross, Wander Suero, Wilmer Difo, Michael A. Taylor, Victor Robles, Raudy Read, Tres Barrera and Roenis Elías. Most of their absences were not explained; Guerra told The Post he was preparing for his wedding.
“We’ve certainly come a long way, Mr. President” pitcher and World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg said after being introduced by Trump. “You know, I think starting out 19-31 only makes this that much better. You know, we could have been like the other teams, we could have won over 100 games and it could have been smooth sailing all the way. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t easy. And we only had one choice, and that was stay in the fight, and we stuck together, we pulled for each other and man, what a way to celebrate finally finishing that fight.”
The Nationals did not speak to reporters at the White House.
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