Center fielder Adam Eaton updated his progress from ACL knee surgery. He has been out since late April. Eaton said he has started running and swinging a bat the last two weeks.
“I’ve been hitting, been throwing,” Eaton reported. “Literally all baseball activities in kind of slow motion. So it’s been rather productive. Ahead of schedule still. Just continue to try to get better (with) slow motion running. I’m running, but (we’re) not sprinting by any stretch of the imagination. Soft jog. Soft jay-ogg.
“It’s legitimately not a really brisk pace. But small goals here or there. Lots been happening. I’m excited. It’s a big step for me. Coming from not even being able to put weight on it and move around to being able to swing a bat. That’s the thing I most enjoyed. Small running. It’s been good.”
Eaton gave a surprising answer to what his large goal would be at this time. It wasn’t the obvious answer that he wanted to come back and play for the Nationals as soon as possible. The larger goal deals more with a major step in his physical rehab: putting heavy pressure on the leg by itself.
“Really to be able to do some one-legged jumps is the large goal,” Eaton said. “I know the testing that they are going to have me do to be able to be cleared to play is a lot of one-legged jumps. Being able to bound back and forth. Being able to land, being able to stop when you land, kind of landing on a base, which apparently I need a lot of practice at. That’s the large goal to be able to come back to play. We are working on that as we speak.”
Can he come back to play this season?
“I’m going to put it in their hands,” Eaton acknowledged. “When we come to the end of September, October whatever it is, I’m going to give myself the best chance that I can and that’s humanly possible for my knee. I have to listen to my knee and the end of the day. My knee’s going to tell me whether it’s a goal or not. But I’m going to put it in the hands of the doctors. You go from the doctors, you got the manager. You got to go to the manager and then the GM. From the GM, you got to go higher than that. There’s a lot of moving part to this. It’s not just, ‘Hey, I feel good, let’s go.’ I can only control what I can control.”
Eaton also admitted that keeping a positive attitude and not getting too antsy for a chance to return is very difficult while he watches helplessly as the Nats roll in the National League East.
“(Manager Dusty Baker) came in and told me that I’ve been doing a very good job mentally,” Eaton said. “It’s funny because I had about four days this past week where I was an absolute piece of salt. Just coming in salty at all get out. It’s funny, we did the math the 90-some days I’ve been on this rehab, there’s been only four days that I’ve been salty, it’s been this last week. It’s the mentality of never being satisfied. Not looking at the small goals that I needed to look at and enjoy those small goals. Mentally it’s been such a tremendous battle for me. It’s definitely a stepping stone in my life that I’m going to use going forward.”
With Bryce Harper slipping on the wet first base bag last week and Eaton tripping on it to the point where he tore knee ligaments, does he believe there is something that can be done to improve base safety through technology?
“This is a hot topic right now,” Eaton said. “I lunged, so my opinion may not matter, but I’ve touched first quite a bit. I will say this: When it rains, water is literally standing on those bags. The way the spike is going these days - we have plastic bottoms and metal spikes or we have with plastic bottoms with plastic spikes. It is an absolute ice skating rink. I slipped on the bag for sure, but even coming back to the bag standing up, I’ve slid off the top of the bag.
“I’m not a scientist, I’m not a plastic sealant specialist or an engineer, but I would imagine there’s something that’s a little bit better, especially when it rains. There’s got to be a better product to put on the bags or even a different bag. Something that would soak up the water. For me anyways, there shouldn’t be a bag that holds water on top of it. You shouldn’t have water sitting on top of it because for it’s just an ice skating rink.”