It was a tragic day on Monday, as Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn passed away after a long battle with cancer. Every team was affected in some way, even the Washington Nationals. Find out how in today’s District Daily:
Strasburg one of Gwynn’s many pupils
When a young pitcher named Stephen Strasburg first came into the San Diego State baseball program, he had a problem on his hands. Tony Gwynn, a Hall of Famer and the team’s head coach, wasn’t convinced the young man had it in him to do what it would take to be great.
To Gwynn, Strasburg needed to step it up with his conditioning, make a commitment to taking care of his body and his arm, and squeeze the most of his opportunity to become a Major League-caliber pitcher.
The light bulb went on, and Strasburg became the No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, going to the Nationals. Gwynn, who passed away Monday at the age of 54 after decades of imparting his love for the game of baseball to so many, had imprinted his legacy on another young player — this one the top amateur arm in years. Read full article here.
Nats Park hosts Zimmerman foundation’s gala event
After doctors diagnosed Ryan Zimmerman‘s mother with multiple sclerosis in 1995, the brutal disease slowly deteriorated her motor skills, ultimately forcing her into a wheelchair in 2000. But it wasn’t until 10 years ago while sitting on a living room couch with his family that the Nationals third baseman decided to make a difference on a national scale.
The idea was called ziMS Foundation. And while it still is run out of the Zimmerman family living room a decade after its conception, the foundation has donated more than $1.5 million to MS research.
The foundation’s marquee fundraising event, A Night at the Park, was hosted for the fifth straight year Monday evening at Nationals Park and featured an exclusive concert from country artists Billy Currington and Jerrod Niemann as well as an expansive silent auction. Read full article here.
Injuries slowing Nationals’ top pitching prospects
WASHINGTON — The top of the Nationals’ farm system is littered with promising pitching talent. But three of the top six prospects overall and three of the top four pitching prospects — right-hander Lucas Giolito (No. 1), left-hander Sammy Solis (No. 5) and left-hander Matt Purke (No. 6) — are all in some stage of recovery from Tommy John surgery.
The Nats have never shied away from selecting previously injured players in the First-Year Player Draft, as they displayed again this year by taking UNLV right-hander Erick Fedde, who underwent Tommy John surgery in the week leading up to the Draft, with the No. 18 overall pick. They did the same with Giolito in the 2012 Draft with the No. 16 overall pick, and he returned in July of the following year displaying similar stuff to his pre-injury form.
Surprisingly, the team’s misfortune with elbow injuries has occurred among players who entered the system with healthy joints. Solis was taken in the second round of the 2010 Draft, and he made 17 starts in 2011 before he underwent Tommy John surgery in ’12. He threw 59 2/3 innings and posted a 3.32 ERA after returning to Class A Potomac in 2013, but this month, Solis was placed on the disabled list because of discomfort in the same left elbow, and he remains shut down. Read full article here.