On and off the field, the Nationals are prepared to bring excitement to baseball fans of all ages across the Washington metro region.
New Nationals Manager Matt Williams leads a talented team in 2014, as he works to take the Nats to the postseason for the second time in franchise history. While new to managing, Williams spent the past four seasons as a coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and was a five time All-Star and 2001 World Series Champion as a player. He takes over a team on the rise that tasted a great deal of success over the past two seasons, but still has aspirations of joining the ranks of baseball’s elite.
Outfielder Jayson Werth headlines the Nationals lineup, coming off a season where he finished fifth in the National League with a .318 batting average and ninth in the league with 25 home runs. Joining Werth are All-Stars Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper, and Ryan Zimmerman, along with first baseman Adam LaRoche, catcher Wilson Ramos, and center fielder Denard Span. At second base, last year’s rookie standout Anthony Rendon will try to hold off Danny Espinosa, who is hungry to reestablish himself as a team stalwart.
On the mound, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, and Doug Fister lead an imposing rotation viewed by many as one of the best in baseball. Left-hander Ross Detwiler will have a chance to return to the starting five, but not before right-handers Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark make their case. Veteran relievers Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, and Craig Stammen, with the help of newcomer Jerry Blevins, will hold down the back of the bullpen.
One important key to the Nationals’ postseason hopes will be getting off to a strong start in the first month of the season. While the team finished extremely well last year, their slow start ended up costing them a shot at the playoffs.
Early in the year, the division rival Atlanta Braves will open the schedule April 4–6, followed by the Miami Marlins, April 8–10. The Nats will return home for a huge four-game series with the 2013 National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals, who will visit Nationals Park April 17–20.
An early matchup sure to draw national attention will pit Bryce Harper and the Nationals against Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the first time in their young careers, from April 21–23 at Nationals Park. Old friends from their days sharing the same outfield in the Arizona Fall League, the 2012 Rookie of the Year winners will look for some early head-to-head bragging rights. The April home schedule concludes with four games against the San Diego Padres, April 24–27.
Off the field, the rest of the organization has stepped up its game with a variety of promotional giveaways and special theme nights that will undoubtedly match the excitement on the diamond.
Most notably, the team has upped the ante with seven bobblehead giveaways, six of which will feature Nats players and one portraying the likeness of Racing President William “Bill” Howard Taft. The six player bobbleheads, presented by PNC Bank, will include Jordan Zimmermann (April 27), Wilson Ramos (May 16), Bryce Harper (June 30), Denard Span (July 20), Ian Desmond (August 21) and Fan Choice winner Tyler Clippard (September 27). The “Bill” bobble will be distributed to fans on August 17.
The Nationals also announced that a Jayson Werth garden gnome will be distributed to fans prior to the team’s August 5 game against the New York Mets, featuring the Nats’ bearded right fielder. The Werth gnome, as well as the seven bobbleheads, will be distributed to the first 25,000 fans and will also now be available at all gates, while supplies last.
Fans who wish to watch the Nationals as they don their ever-popular patriotic jerseys will have four opportunities to do so in 2014. This year’s Patriotic Series, presented by SAIC, includes Armed Forces Day (May 17), Memorial Day (May 26), Independence Day (July 4) and Heroes Day (September 10).
The popular NatsLive FREE Postgame Concert Series returns once again for the 2014 season, featuring three dates throughout the summer. NatsLive will give fans an opportunity to listen to some of the biggest names in music, with free shows following games on June 5, July 19 and August 16.
For the most current list of promotional dates and giveaways, including NatsLive performers, Kids Run the Bases, Pups in the Park, Signature Sundays presented by New Era, $1 Dogs presented by Hatfield, and much, much more, visit nationals.com/promotions.
By: Mike Feigen