The Nationals Fanfest and Winter Caravan is upon us with festivities kicking off Wednesday. The Caravan culminates Sunday with the NatsFest at Nationals Park.
I spoke with Nats pitcher Craig Stammen last week and I mentioned seeing the Cincinnati Reds' winter caravan on the local news in Dayton. Stammen says it was Jim Bowden's idea to do the same thing with the Nationals when he arrived and the NatsFest and Winter caravan was implemented in D.C.
A couple of notes about Sunday's NatsFest that the Nats wanted me to pass along. There are limited tickets available to the public at nationals.com/Natsfest. The first 3,500 fans will receive a MASN and Nationals reusable bag. Also, Ryan Zimmerman's Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Awards will be on display for fans to take photos.
On Wednesday, the caravan begins in Washington, DC at the Unity Health Care's Southwest Health Center. It will be a Meet-and-Greet and Book Donation. The event takes place from 11am to 1pm.
At 1pm, their will be an autograph session at Hard Times CafÃ© in Arlington, VA. Hard Times is a great place for chili (my fave is the Cincinnati variety) and the restaurant is literally across the street from the Clarendon Metro stop. Players will be there from 1pm to 2pm.
Then at 6pm, the caravan will conduct a Build-A-Bear Workshop and autograph session in McLean, VA.
Players slated to attend include shortstop Danny Espinosa, manager Jim Riggleman, pitcher Ryan Speier, and pitcher Drew Storen. MASN Nationals color commentator Rob Dibble is the scheduled moderator.
Here is a rundown of what is happening and where in Virginia and Maryland:
Wednesday at Hard Times Cafe - one-hour autograph signing from 1-2 in Clarendon.
Wednesday at Build-A-Bear- one-hour autograph session from 6-7 in Tyson's Corner
Thursday at Potomac Nationals (Woodbridge) - 6-8pm at Pfitzner Stadium
Saturday 2:30pm - 3:30pm - photos and autographs with players at Prince George's County Sports & Learning Complex
Saturday 5pm - 7pm photos and autographs with players at White Flint Mall
Thursday, Ben's Chili Bowl 11am-1pm
Friday, Hot Stove Luncheon, Nats Park, ticketed event
Sunday, NatsFest, Nats Park, ticketed event
Caps fans don't miss Nats Players at the Verizon Center on Friday, January 29 prior to the Caps game vs. the Florida Panthers.
Here is an updated list of Nationals participation:
Participating Players, Manager and Front Office Staff*
Pitcher Brian Bruney January 29 - 31
Pitcher Matt Capps January 29 - 31
Pitcher Tyler Clippard January 29 - 31
First Baseman Adam Dunn January 28 - 29
Shortstop Danny Espinosa January 27 - 29
Pitcher John Lannan January 29 - 31
Pitcher Jason Marquis January 29 - 31
Outfielder Nyjer Morgan January 29 - 31
Manager Jim Riggleman January 27 - 31
General Manager Mike Rizzo January 28, 30, 31
Catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez January 31
Pitcher Ryan Speier January 27 - 29
Pitcher Craig Stammen January 29 - 31
Pitcher Drew Storen January 27 - 29
Outfielder Josh Willingham January 29 - 31
Third Baseman Ryan Zimmerman January 29 - 31
Nationals Television Broadcaster Rob Dibble January 27 -31
NBC's "Meet the Press" Moderator David Gregory January 30
* Nationals player/manager/front office schedules are subject to change.