Hall of Famer Rolen is surprise guest speaker at Nats camp

JUPITER, Fla. – It’s not unusual for former players to speak to the Nationals and offer advice to the organization’s younger up-and-comers. Certainly not this spring, which has seen Ryan Zimmerman spend a week at camp and Sean Doolittle and Gerardo Parra take on full-time coaching positions.

But those are all former Nationals, guys with distinct connections to recent franchise history. The guy who spoke to the team this morning has none of that. Though he does have a plaque in Cooperstown.

Scott Rolen, the former star third baseman of the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Reds, was a surprise visitor in the clubhouse today. Invited by manager Davey Martinez and bench coach Miguel Cairo, he’ll be around for several days in an unofficial capacity.

“I wanted him to come to camp and just talk to some of the younger players and everybody,” Martinez said. “I said to the boys he exemplifies the way we want to play the game. This guy showed his heart. He was one of the best. I think they were in awe, because he’s a big fella.”

The 6-foot-4 Rolen indeed was an immediate physical presence when he walked into the clubhouse, top prospects Dylan Crews, James Wood and Robert Hassell III all sitting together by the door and excited to see him. Rolen, a 2023 Hall of Fame inductee, spoke to the entire team during their morning “Circle of Trust” meeting, then was on the field for pregame workouts, offering advice to anyone interested in listening.

What’s the Rolen connection to the Nats? He never played for the franchise, and he never played with Martinez, though the two played against each other countless times during their respective careers. Cairo, though, was teammates with Rolen in both St. Louis and Cincinnati, the two of them retiring at the same time following the 2012 season.

“We played against each other, but Miguel played with him,” Martinez said. “I want to try to hopefully bring some guys into camp that can talk to our young players, and guys have done it. He had a little message there for them, so it was awesome.”

Rolen isn’t appearing in uniform, so don’t count on any photos of him in curly W gear. His presence alone, even if only for a few days, is enough.

“I’m going to help you as much as I can,” Martinez said of his message to players. “But if you don’t come to one of us, we don’t know what’s going on in your mind. But to have somebody like that, that’s the pinnacle. It’s awesome. It’s awesome for him to come out here and talk to kids. Because I’m sure a lot of them, just like we all, they want to be Hall of Famers. Only a select few get an opportunity to do that, but they all have an opportunity to do so. So it’s nice to hear from a Hall of Famer.”

Rainey's healthy debut, Corbin's sharp cutter and ...
Starting lineups: Nats vs. Cardinals in Jupiter

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.masnsports.com/