Miami Marlins

With or without Donald Trump, Washington Nationals not worried about political statements

AP

President Donald Trump declined the Washington Nationals invitation to throw out the ceremonial first pitch as part of Monday’s Opening Day festivities against the visiting Miami Marlins with the White House citing a scheduling conflict.

By turning down the Nationals’ offer, social media went crazy — as it probably would have had he accepted — and the Nationals are well aware of what’s swirling around them.

Yet, as a number of players told the Washington Post, politics just don’t come up in their clubhouse all that often.

If Washington’s players want to publicly talk politics, team brass says they won’t step in.

WASHINGTON POST: The Nationals leave politics aside despite their proximity to power

“I’m all about players speaking out when they feel like speaking out. They’re grown men,” general manager Mike Rizzo told the Post.

Said manager Dusty Baker: “Those are very sensitive areas, but somebody has to speak out about them, and athletes do have a tremendous impact. I don’t put a muzzle on these guys. You say what you want to say. The only thing is, if you say what you want to say, then you gotta deal with the repercussions that could affect you for a long time.”

The Marlins and Nationals begin their 2017 campaigns Monday at 1:05 p.m.

Although Trump won’t be in the ballpark, other presidents will be.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, William Howard Taft and Abraham Lincoln will take to the field in the fourth inning — as they do at every home game — for the popular ‘Presidents Race.’

OPENING DAY FOR MARLINS

When, where: 1:05 p.m.; Nationals Park, Washington.

TV/radio: FSFL; WINZ 940.

Scouting report: The Nationals enter the season as defending NL East champs with manager Dusty Baker saying his team has to be considered the favorite to repeat. “This team hasn't gotten to the playoffs in consecutive years, so right now we want to concentrate No. 1 on winning the division, and No. 2 on getting to the playoffs,” Baker told MLB.com. “Our division's going to be tough. ... We feel with us being the incumbent, we're the ones to unseat.”

Pitching matchup: Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 3.60 ERA, 183 Ks, 147 2/3 IP last season) v Miami RHP Edinson Volquez (10-11, 5.37 ERA, 139 Ks, 189 1/3 IP with Royals).

Miami’s lineup: Gordon 2b, Realmuto c, Yelich cf, Stanton rf, Bour 1b, Ozuna lf, Dietrich 3b, Hechavarria ss, Volquez rhp.

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