Earlier this afternoon, I was given the opportunity to speak with Washington Nationals Vice President of Player Personnel and 19 year Major League veteran Bob Boone, courtesy of AstraZeneca in conjunction with National Cholesterol Education Month. Tonight, free cholesterol screenings for adults aged 18 and older will be available in partnership with the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park.
Mr. Boone was kind enough to answer a few questions about the Nationals and the initiative with AstraZeneca and the Washington Nationals for us.
DoC: On May 28th, the Nationals were 25-27, three games out of first. Since then, they have gone 54-32 to take the best record in the National League. What has been the difference over the past few months?
BB: There were a lot of breakdowns and injuries. Wilson Ramos, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman all missed time in the early going. It’s mainly been our improved health. It’s a long season – it’s better to get those injuries out of the way in the first few months than to worry about them in September.
DoC: Speaking of Bryce Harper, he and manager Matt Williams have reportedly butted heads several times this season. What is the nature of their relationship at this time?
BB: It’s terrific. Harp is an aggressive player with little experience. He never really hit against anyone younger than him, as he went to junior college after his sophomore year in high school. He came back from his thumb injury and struggles, so he’s learning how to play better. The issues between he and Matt are mainly overblown.
Call to the Pen
DoC: One of the pleasant surprises on the season has been the performance of Tanner Roark this season (12-9, 2.91 ERA). How much of a surprise has his performance been for the Nationals this year?
BB: Roark’s been tremendous this year. He was fighting for the fifth spot in the rotation and seized the opportunity. He always had great stuff, but the difference has been his improved control. He’s been one of our main guys this year.
DoC: What are some prospects that Nationals fans may want to keep an eye on over the next few seasons?
BB: Well, we have three of our minor league teams in the playoffs, so we’re doing a great job of developing players. Steven Souza led the International League in hitting. We have five or six top pitching prospects, like Reynaldo Lopez in Hagerstown (4-1, 1.33 ERA, 0.803 WHiP) who can hit 98 with his fastball. A.J. Cole (13-3, 3.16 ERA, 1.343 WHiP across two levels) made the jump to AAA this year. We’re excited about the direction of the organization. Of course, it also helps their trade value. We have 13 former minor leaguers who are in the majors with other clubs right now.
DoC: This interview was made possible by Astra Zeneca and National Cholesterol Education Month. What did your own diagnosis of high cholesterol mean to you and what can our readers do to prevent it?
BB: The biggest thing is to realize that there are no symptoms. You have to be diligent about being checked. That’s what today is for – making people aware. We’re giving people the chance to get a screening and blood test to get their cholesterol checked.
High cholesterol can lead to heart disease, so it’s important to spread awareness. With medication, the right diet and regular checkups, it can be brought under control. The important thing is to get checked.
DoC: Finally, the Nationals are one of five teams to be part of the educational initiative with AstraZeneca this month. What sort of programs and initiatives will be coming up in the future?
BB: Well, we’d like this to be successful. We’re spreading the word, using publicity to make people aware to see their doctor and to get checked. Medication and diet are a big part. But remember to get checked.
Our thanks once again to Bob Boone and the folks at AstraZeneca for making this interview possible.