'Here I come to save the day!' Eaton likes Mighty Mouse look
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) Adam Eaton donned his ''go-to shirt'' - a gray T, with the words ''Mighty Mouse'' in red, and a sketch of the small-but-strong cartoon character who debuted in the 1940s - before and after the Washington Nationals' first full-squad workout of spring training on Sunday.
The piece of casual clothing, purchased by his wife at a Nordstrom Rack, contains the nickname given to the 5-foot-8 Eaton in college at Miami (Ohio).
And while it took a while for the outfielder to embrace his ''Napoleon syndrome,'' as he called it, Eaton is now proud of what he's been able to do in the majors.
''You definitely play with a chip on your shoulder to say that, you know, smaller guys can play this game and play at a high level. For me, I always tell fans that half the fans are taller than me and to tell their little ones that, hey, anything's possible. Doesn't matter the size or the strength or anything,'' Eaton said.
''If you have determination and a dream, go out and reach it, because I think that I am definitely living proof that you don't have to be 6-3 to play in this league, and you don't have to be the most athletic and the prettiest runner and everything,'' he added. ''It doesn't have to be beautiful. Just go out and have a drive and reach your goal.''
He's at least 3 inches shorter than every other member of the Nationals' 40-man roster - including a 7-inch height difference with Bryce Harper, and 9 with Jayson Werth, the other members of his hitting group Sunday.
''If you talk to scouts, there's that bias: `Oh, he's such a big, strong, strapping guy,''' said former major league player and manager Bob Boone, now a Nationals VP and senior adviser to general manager Mike Rizzo. ''But what really matters is what happens between the lines. If you can really play, nobody cares about your size.''
Eaton was Rizzo's biggest offseason addition for the defending NL East champions, who sent three young pitchers to the Chicago White Sox.
Manager Dusty Baker is expected to bat Eaton first or second in the lineup and start him in center, between corner outfielders Werth and Harper.
''I told him to put me wherever he wants to put me,'' Eaton said.
Last season, Eaton hit .284 with 14 homers, 59 RBIs and 14 stolen bases, while leading the majors with 18 outfield assists from right field.
Eaton, 28, has three guaranteed seasons left in a $23.5 million, five-year contract. He has a .284 career batting average with a .357 on-base percentage and a .414 slugging percentage, with 34 homers and 177 RBIs in five seasons with the White Sox and the Arizona Diamondbacks. He led the AL in triples in two of the past three seasons.
Baker said Eaton's former manager in Chicago, Robin Ventura, offered something of a scouting report on the player: ''Robin said he comes to play. And I think that's the No. 1 thing that we're getting paid for. You come to play. That's a good sign and it's a very good reputation to have - that he's a ballplayer.''
NOTES: Baker on the possibility of getting a new contract from the Nationals: ''I'm very confident that we'd get things worked out. You'd like to do it sooner rather than later, because I don't want to be a distraction to my team.'' ... Harper took a break during the workout to have his right hand taped by a trainer. Asked what might have been wrong with the 2015 NL MVP, Baker replied: ''He didn't say anything. And the trainer didn't say anything. So as long as they don't say anything, I'm really not going to ask too much.'' ... Werth said he hasn't had any talks with the team about remaining when his $126 million, seven-year contract expires after this season, adding: ''But we'll see. There's always a possibility.''
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