Nats players honored, excited about playing at Navy

The Nationals face the Red Sox in the Naval Academy Baseball Classic today. The day will begin with a breakfast reception and then the players will tour the Academy. The game's first pitch is slated for 2 p.m. and it is not open to the public. It will be broadcasted on MASN.

The Naval Academy Baseball Classic pregame ceremony will include:

* Ceremonial first pitch thrown by The Honorable Sean J. Stackley, Acting Secretary of the Navy
* Our nation's colors presented by the U.S. Naval Academy Color Guard
* National Anthem performed by the U.S. Naval Academy Men's and Women's Glee Club and Gospel Choir
* Flyover by the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22 "Sea Knights"
* Lineup card delivery by Vice Admiral Walter E. "Ted" Carter Jr., 62nd superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy and the Honorable Ray Mabus, former Secretary of the Navy
* Starting Lineup Tunnel featuring U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen
* Game ball delivery by Midshipmen Captain of Captains, Sarita Condie, Captain of the U.S. Naval Academy's Women's Basketball Team
* Play Ball! announcement by Colonel Stephen Liszewski, U.S. Marine Corps, 86th Commandant of Midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy

The Nationals players are thrilled to be a part of the historic game. Right-hander Max Scherzer got excited about the game last year in North Carolina.

max-scherzer-pitching-20-strikeouts-sidebar.png"I can't wait," Scherzer said. "That's going to be an unbelievable experience. I watched the Fort Bragg game last year and getting to see all the players interact and how much fun they have. I'm happy I get to pitch in that game (today) and be able to get there and connect with the servicemen, the real heroes of this country. That's going to be a fun game to participate in."

Right-hander Stephen Strasburg has a lot of memories of growing up in a Navy border town like San Diego, but this will be his first visit to Annapolis.

"I've never gone up there," Strasburg said. "I'm excited to see what it's all about. I know there's going to be a lot of midshipmen there. I get a chance to meet some of them and talk baseball with them. Growing up in San Diego, I come from a military family, so you can really respect and appreciate the sacrifices that they make. I wouldn't be playing this game if it wasn't for them."

Home run hitter Bryce Harper is looking forward to today, just for the chance to bring baseball to the midshipmen and give them a chance to talk to him about the game he loves.

"It's amazing," Harper said. "They do so much for us, foreign and domestic. Being able to do the things that we are able to do for them going over there, really playing, having some fun, taking them away from that brutal schedule they are on. It's going to be a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to being a part of it."

Newly acquired center fielder Adam Eaton has a lot of military in his blood. He grew up on Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. His brother is in the Air Force, stationed in Nebraska.

"I'm just going to try to take it all in," Eaton said. "Coming from a military family, Air Force and Army on my end, the Naval side has always interested me. The sacrifices those people have to make early on in their life, especially going to the Naval Academy, is very intriguing to me and excites me to be able to pick their brains and learn a lot from what it takes to be a Naval officer. I think it's a really neat aspect. The game is important, but I'm just excited to meet some people, get to know them and hopefully give them some excitement for that game."

Shortstop Trea Turner is also looking forward to today's events in Annapolis:

"Hopefully very fun," he said. "My grandpa was in the Army and my uncle is at the Virginia Navy base right now in Virginia Beach. I have a connection to those guys. It's an honor to play a game in front of them and give them a chance to take a break from their jobs because they do a lot for us, a lot for this country. It should be pretty exciting."

With Friday's exhibition game cancelled, the intimate event at a collegiate stadium will be the Nationals' last warmup before it all begins for real Monday. They couldn't have thought of a better place to start a season.

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