Welcome to the latest edition of the Nationals Beat newsletter. This is your stop for the latest on and off the field, from news to exclusive player interviews and insights brought to you by MLB.com club reporter Jessica Camerato. For more behind the scenes photos and videos from Washington, D.C., and on the road, follow along on Instagram and IG stories.
The Nationals added more than a veteran bat when Luke Voit was acquired from the Padres on Aug. 2 -- they also gained a leader who was eager to step up in a clubhouse that had just become significantly younger at the Trade Deadline.
“I love his passion,” said manager Dave Martinez. “He loves to play the game. When I first talked to him on the phone, he said, ‘I’m going to do everything I can to help you guys win every day,’ and it’s been that.”
Voit, 31, has been competitive for as long as he can remember, from playing baseball to checkers to video games. With that desire to win comes a drive to help those around him succeed, too.
“I think it’s something that I grew up with,” Voit said. “It’s always been an instinct to compete and win, but also make sure everybody’s as best suited for those situations as they possibly can be.”
After making his Major League debut with the Cardinals in 2017, Voit was dealt to the Yankees the following July. From '18-21, he soaked up as much as he could about becoming a leader on this level from his teammates in the Bronx.
Seeking out the insight of veterans, Voit appreciated what he learned from 2007 American League Cy Young Award winner CC Sabathia and Gold Glove outfielder Brett Gardner.
“Kind of completely different leaders,” Voit said. “One guy had that ‘himself against the world’ mentality, and then one was just a firecracker, constantly bringing energy. So it was a good mix to have both those guys. Gardner’s the firecracker, for sure … [CC would] go out there, give his 110 percent to be there for the guys, always [be] on the top step of the dugout and pulling guys aside if something was going wrong.”
A player didn’t have to be the most experienced on the team, either, for Voit to glean valuable lessons. 2022 AL MVP favorite Aaron Judge is one year younger than Voit, and he was in his third season when Voit was traded to New York.
“I would say Aaron Judge is a big one, just because he’s so calm, cool and collected all the time. No panic,” Voit said. “Always engaging with everybody, and he didn’t even see it half the time, I feel like. He just will never say anything bad about anybody. It’s nice to see guys that are that good and be so humble at the same time.”
It’s with that perspective that Voit has quickly immersed himself in a Nationals roster that includes an emerging 21-year-old standout shortstop in CJ Abrams and a 42-year-old designated hitter in Nelson Cruz. Teammates and staff have taken note of the example set by his daily preparation and in-game communication and interactions.
“Obviously, [age] doesn’t matter,” Voit said. “I want guys, whether they have five days of big league time or 15 years, to feel the same. That’s what the biggest trait that I learned from the Yankees probably was -- just everybody’s treated the same, in the training room, in the weight room, off the field, in the clubhouse. Obviously, there’s certain things that you’re not supposed to do as well; that’s where we hold you accountable. But you’ve got a big league jersey on, so represent yourself, your team and your family as well as you can.”
Reliever Sean Doolittle celebrates his 36th birthday on Monday. What was his ERA in the 2019 World Series?
AFL ROSTERS ANNOUNCED
Outfielder Robert Hassell III, the Nationals’ No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, headlines the organization's participants in this year’s Arizona Fall League. Hassell will be joined on the Peoria Javelinas by infielders Darren Baker and Will Frizzell, fellow outfielder Yasel Antuna (No. 19), pitchers Tim Cate, Lucas Knowles, Orlando Ribalta and Amos Willingham, and catchers Drew Millas (No. 30) and Brady Lindsly. AFL action begins on Oct. 3.
BELL HONORED AS CLEMENTE AWARD NOMINEE
The Nationals nominated first baseman Josh Bell for the 2022 Roberto Clemente Award for his contributions to the community during his tenure in Washington, D.C. From the time he was acquired from the Pirates on Christmas Eve 2020 to when he was traded to the Padres on Aug. 2, Bell prioritized helping others, including through his role as the official player ambassador for the Nationals Philanthropies' Youth Baseball Academy.
"From the time I went [to the Academy], I had a special relationship there," Bell said. "I felt like my time [in Washington, D.C.] was obviously ups and downs on the baseball field … but the time in the community was all good."
Read more about Bell’s nomination and how to vote for the annual award, presented to the player "who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field." Nationals designated hitter Nelson Cruz won the 2021 Clemente Award as a Minnesota Twin.
This season marks the 10-year anniversary of the Nationals’ first playoff team. Check back for memories and milestones from the ’12 club.
Michael Morse went yard twice in the Nationals’ 7-3 victory over the Phillies on Sept. 27. He crushed his second home run of the game so hard it landed in the raised visitors’ bullpen at Citizens Bank Park. Gio González earned his league-best 21st win of the season in his six-inning start.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
• Saturday, Sept. 24: Elton John: Farewell Yellow Brick Road -- The Final Tour
• Monday, Sept. 26: Teddy’s Garage Sale
• Tuesday, Sept. 27: Italian Heritage Night; Northern Virginia Community College Day; Teddy’s Garage Sale
• Wednesday, Sept. 28: U.S. Air Force Day
Click here for the full promotions schedule
Doolittle pitched three scoreless innings in the 2019 World Series.
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