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Spring Training Report: Clubhouse chemistry of the 2019 Nationals tough to replicate

File photo of 2020 Washington Nationals Spring Training. (ABC7)
File photo of 2020 Washington Nationals Spring Training. (ABC7)
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From "Baby Shark" to dugout dances to "Los Viejos," the Nationals' clubhouse last year was a special collection of personalities, hi-jinks and loyalty that the franchise had never seen before.

What first started out as a ploy to improve a struggling ball club quickly turned into a recipe for unprecedented success and the most unlikely and improbable run to a World Series title in MLB history.

The chemistry is a major reason why some players plan to stay in D.C. for another year, in some cases many more years.

"It is going to be tough to repeat what we had last year," said bullpen reliever Daniel Hudson. "But I felt like I wanted to be a part of it and it is good to be back."

Hudson, who came to the Nationals at last year's trade deadline from Toronto, signed a two-year $11 million deal to remain in D.C., largely due to the culture that was set a year ago.

"Luckily, me and the organization were on the same page when it came to that," said Hudson. "It's fun and I'm excited to see what we have got."

Some new additions signed to the Nationals to experience the clubhouse atmosphere they saw from their vantage point in another team's dugout.

Eric Thames was a member of the Milwaukee Brewers, which were eliminated by the Nationals in the Wild Card round. He remembers vividly how alive they were while lighting a fire in the home crowd at Nationals Park. A discussion with Nats infielder Howie Kendrick sealed the deal for the power-hitting first baseman.

"The team is just a great bunch of guys," said Thames. "They just raved about it and seeing how they played for each other in the playoffs it was a no-brainer."

Starlin Castro moved over to the Nationals from NL East rival Miami, and in his 10-year major league career he has not experienced any other clubhouse like the one this group has from that magical season.

"It has been really fun, especially coming over to a new team," said Castro. "The guys hustle every day, play hard every day. I know Davey Martinez from my time in Chicago. When I entered free agency, I told my agent (Nationals) were my No. 1 team."

Whatever the reason, the Nationals are now a coveted team to play for. Not because they won a World Series and are likely a contender to repeat as champions, but for the journey and process these group of players enjoy wholeheartedly.

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Baseball is fun in D.C. these days, who doesn't want to play for a team that is having the best time, day-in and day-out?

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