Nationals players were welcomed in the clubhouse by U.S. Navy four-star Admiral James A. Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, prior to their Tuesday doubleheader against the Braves.
Winnefeld handed out U.S. Navy caps for the players to wear during batting practice today, one day after Monday’s tragic shootings at nearby Washington Navy Yard.
Nationals players Craig Stammen, Chad Tracy, Tyler Moore and Jeff Kobernus were the first to greet the admiral and share some time reflections on the tragedy.
Winnefeld expressed how appreciative the Navy was to all the Nationals did to help the community on Monday and their importance as neighbors to the Navy Yard.
Stammen agreed with the decision to postpone Monday’s night game following the tragedy and understands how the game of baseball can help heal in some small way, diverting the sadness for a moment in an attempt to get back to some sort of normalcy.
“It is a little too close to have anything like a baseball game going on after it just happened,” Stammen said. “If we can provide that to the rest of the nation, the rest of Washington, D.C., we definitely should be able to do it. I don’t think we have a problem playing every day, we are used to doing that.
“To us, it is just a baseball game. But it is something to get your mind off what just happened. And hopefully we will provide that to the rest of the city. Yesterday was a day off for us and a day off to kind of think about what happened and move on. Today, we turn the page and get ready to continue on.”
Stammen cannot believe this type of violence happened so close to where they play baseball.
“It is almost surreal and unbelievable because you wake up in the morning there is people getting shot at a block from the stadium,” Stammen said. “When you think about your day-to-day like you don’t think that stuff is going to happen, but it did. We got to move on and prove that we are capable of moving on from that and being a better nation.”
As a baseball player, Stammen said the easy part is going out and playing.
“It doesn’t affect us too much playing the game because we are taught to block everything out and go play and have fun and have success,” Stammen said. “When we are outside the game of baseball, we are just like the rest of you guys. Sad that people died, sad that people got shot in the way that they did and sad someone thinks that that is a good idea to do that. It is unfortunate, but it is a part of the world we live in today.”
Winnefeld had a moment to speak with Stammen and hand him a U.S. Navy cap that the Nationals will wear during warmups and batting practice.
“It will be cool,” Stammen said of wearing the Navy cap. “Any time we can support the military and support the people that risked their lives every day. They were over there (at Navy Yard), they didn’t know they were risking their lives by showing up to work yesterday, but apparently that is what it was. Anything we can do to support them, that is what we will do.”