Willingham on new opportunity: “I’m excited”

The Nationals took another step with the trade of popular outfielder Josh Willingham to the Oakland Athletics for right-hander Henry Rodriguez and outfielder Corey Brown. Willingham confirmed the trade and is excited about his new opportunity but also is appreciative of his time with the Nationals.

As for his new team, Willingham says the Athletics are going in the right direction and have talent in the outfield.

“Oakland has got a .500 baseball club and already has some good outfielders in Coco Crisp and David DeJesus,” Willingham said. “It is a good opportunity for me to compete. Their pitching is really good.”

He says playing in the junior circuit for the first time in his career will be a challenge.

“The American League is kind of an area of unknown for me,” Willingham said. “I don’t really know what to expect. It is something new and I am excited about it.”

Willingham says general manager Mike Rizzo told him earlier today of the trade and wished him and his family well, thanking him for his service to the Nationals.

“Rizzo called and told me the trade was for two young players,” Willingham said. “Rizzo and the Nationals organization have been great to me. There are no hard feelings. We had a lot of nice things to say to one another.”

Willingham is positive about the move and is looking forward to playing for Oakland, but looks back proudly to his time in D.C.

“It is another step in the journey for me,” Willingham said. “I greatly appreciated the Nats’ honesty in their dealings with me, the opportunity they gave me and the support to my family. But that is what a trade is - it is an opportunity . I take it all in stride.”

Willingham says he will miss a bunch of his teammates on the Nationals, especially his time with Ryan Zimmerman.

“Zim and I got really close, I will miss him,” Willingham said. “John Lannan and a lot of those guys, I will remember those guys.”

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