Eaton (knee) said Monday that he has received clearance for spring training after he was able to run, hit and perform change-of-direction work during the offseason, though the Nationals could be cautious of overworking him during Grapefruit League play, Mark Zuckerman of MASNSports.com reports. "The biggest thing is to kind of get [Eaton] to realize that, hey, we want him ready for Opening Day," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "He's going to get opportunities to play in spring training a lot, but we want him ready for Opening Day."

After suffering a complete tear of the ACL in his left knee upon landing awkwardly on first base while attempting to beat out a grounder in an April 28 game, Eaton spent almost all of the 2017 campaign rehabbing from surgery. He progressed as expected and didn't rule out the possibility of playing late in October if the Nationals had made it to the Fall Classic, but the offseason has provided additional time for him to strengthen the knee. With the outfielder having received clearance to resume all baseball activities, it appears that he won't face significant limitations in the spring, but expect the Nationals to stagger Eaton's workload in order to meet the goal of avoiding a setback prior to Opening Day. Martinez has already penciled Eaton in as the club's leadoff hitter, a role that could make the 29-year-old a contender to finish near the top of the league leaderboard in runs if health prevails.

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