Manager Dave Martinez said Saturday that Eaton will serve as the Nationals' leadoff hitter, Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic reports. Eaton being put into the leadoff role makes sense for the Nationals, as he has a .394 on-base percentage in his two years with the team. The 30-year-old should be a good source of runs at the top of the lineup, however he has been limited to only 118 games during his two seasons in Washington as his season-long health remains a concern.
Eaton went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored and two RBI in Friday's Grapefruit League game against the Marlins. Hitting leadoff against right-hander Dan Straily, Eaton pushed his spring slash line up to .343/.500/.743, with eight of his 12 hits (five doubles, three homers) going for extra bases. Health is always the biggest concern with the 30-year-old -- he's played only 118 games in two seasons since joining the Nats -- but when he's in the lineup, Eaton should be a prime source of runs while supplying solid numbers in other categories.
Eaton went 1-for-4 with a solo home run in Friday's Grapefruit League game against the Mets. He set the tone by leading things off with his third homer of the spring -- one of seven jacks by Nats hitters on the day. The 30-year-old now sports a .318/.531/.818 slash line through 32 plate appearances with a remarkable 9:5 BB:K, and with Michael Taylor (knee/hip) out of action for the foreseeable future, there's no longer a serious threat on the roster to Eaton's playing time in right field.
Eaton could lose out on playing time to Michael Taylor this season, Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic reports. The Nationals are going to experiment with Victor Robles in right field in the coming days in preparation for games this season when Taylor will get the start in center field. This makes sense on a couple levels. First, Taylor has had an impressive spring and, in manager Dave Martinez's estimation, is the best defensive center fielder on the roster. Second, Eaton has struggled to stay healthy in recent years, so giving him semi-regular rest days may be in everyone's best interest. Taylor, who hits from the right side, has an 87 career wRC+ against lefties and a 77 career wRC+ against righties, so it's possible he and Eaton, who hits from the left side, settle into a regular platoon.
Eaton went 1-for-1 with a solo home run, two walks and two runs scored Thursday against the Mets. Eaton slotted into the No. 2 spot in the lineup and clubbed a solo homer in the third inning to give Washington a 2-0 cushion. He's batting .417 with a home run, four RBI, five runs scored and a stolen base so far this spring.
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