The day we have all been waiting for is finally here. After 17 long months since Game 5 of the 2019 World Series, fans will return home to Nationals Park tonight for Opening Day!
I cannot wait to be back at the ballpark as we begin to regain some sense of normalcy. It will be wonderful to see many of the members of our Nationals family back in the place we all love. I am so excited to watch our players and coaching staff run back onto the field, our ushers and other Nationals staff greeting fans they haven’t seen in over a year, and some of our fans back in the stands cheering on our team.
Of course, while our attendance is capped at 5,000 fans, we will not be able to have everyone back at the ballpark. But as I mentioned in my note last week, discussions have already begun with officials from the District about increasing capacity as soon as the second homestand, which begins April 15. So hopefully we will be able to have even more fans join us at the ballpark very soon!
For those who are coming to Opening Day and other games, you will notice many changes around the ballpark. The health and safety of our fans is of the utmost importance to our organization and we have implemented many new safety measures to create social distance and eliminate crowding throughout the ballpark. I encourage everyone who is planning to visit Nationals Park to familiarize themselves with the new protocols at nationals.com/WelcomeHome.
Although there will be some things that feel different at the ballpark, I think we will all feel that familiar rush when the Nats run onto the field for the first time and the game gets underway. Opening Day will certainly be a star-studded contest, with two Cy Young Award winners on the mound and several powerful bats in each lineup.
As Davey Martinez announced last week, Max Scherzer will take the ball for us for the sixth time in the past seven Opening Days. We have extreme confidence in Max and we know he will give us everything he has each time he steps onto the mound. Behind him in the rotation, I am hopeful that Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin will both return to top form and that newcomer Jon Lester will provide lots of durability and toughness at the back our rotation. It will also be great to see Joe Ross back on the field at Nats Park for the first time since Game 5 of the World Series!
In the bullpen, Davey Martinez will have several capable options to pitch at the end of ball games. Brad Hand has been one of the best relievers in baseball over the past few years. Tanner Rainey and Wander Suero both have electric stuff, and Daniel Hudson and his big arm are also more than capable of closing out games.
I have really high hopes for our offense this season as well. It goes without saying that we are counting on Juan Soto and Trea Turner to continue to blossom and make an impact at the top of our lineup, but we also will have lots of power in the middle of our batting order. Josh Bell has been tearing the cover off the ball in Spring Training and Kyle Schwarber also looks ready for a huge season in D.C. Starlin Castro, one of the most underrated hitters in the game, will return from injury too. Last but not least, Ryan Zimmerman ended the spring scorching hot and should be a very useful weapon at first base and off the bench for Davey.
I am confident that this year’s team has what it takes to compete with the best teams in baseball and I’m so excited to see what this new season brings.
Before I sign off, I want to thank you all again for your continued support throughout this difficult past year. I hope you all continue to stay safe and healthy, and that someday soon we will be able to pack Nationals Park like we did during the 2019 Postseason. But for now, please enjoy this unique Opening Day — whether you’re watching from your living room or from the ballpark, wear your red and your Curly W’s, grab a hot dog, and let’s begin another season full of memories together.
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