ANAHEIM, Calif. — Outfielder Adam Eaton left the White Sox for the Nationals in one of those trades that worked out well for both teams.
Eaton helped the Nationals win a World Series in 2019. The Nats sent Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning to the Sox to stock their rebuild with pitching, pieces that have worked out well with Giolito developing into a two-time Opening Day starter and Cy Young contender, and not as well with Lopez struggling and failing to make this year’s team. Dunning was traded for one year of Lance Lynn, who would be an ace on more than a few teams.
Eaton, who returned this past offseason on a one-year, $7 million deal to play right field on a team with World Series aspirations, did what he could to jumpstart the Sox, belting a two-run homer against Dylan Bundy in Thursday’s 4-3 Opening Night loss to the Angels.
“With the Nationals behind me and being with the Sox, it means a lot as a guy who has been there and done that, has experienced it, has tackled it and come out on the right side of it,” Eaton told the Sun-Times. “It’s kind of a feather in the cap of guys who’ve won it.”
Eaton, Dallas Keuchel and Lynn are the only Sox on the Opening Day roster with World Series rings. There’s talking World Series and there’s winning one, and Lynn said the Sox talk has merit.
“Sometimes you actually have a chance and sometimes you don’t,” Lynn said. “This year we feel like we really have a chance so we have to do what we have to do to capitalize on that.”
Eaton wants another one, and really wants his teammates to experience what he did, an adventure that, in the moment was so intense he hardly knew what hit him.
“You’re so focused through the whole process, from the Wild Card game through the whole playoff experience to winning Game 7,” Eaton said. “You’re so focused on the next hitter or pitcher and you kind of forget about what you’re actually doing. And afterward it’s nothing but drinking, so I forget about all that.”
What Eaton learned is “it takes an absolute army” to win it all. Everyone from the ace of the pitching staff to the pitchers called up when injuries set in, everyone from the starting shortstop to the third catcher.
Which is why, while smarting from the loss of Eloy Jimenez to injury, Eaton believes it didn’t devastate the Sox’ chances.
“When we won it Trea Turner went down, broke two fingers, and Anthony Rendon went down for a while, but we made it work,” Eaton said. “You’re talking your 1 and 3 hitters and Gold Glove third baseman and shortstop going down.”
It’s the encounters with adversity that can bind or break team, so camaraderie does make a difference, Eaton said.
“Those special relationships. where guys are playing for each other,” Eaton said. “When you cant feel your hands and feet in Game 5 or Game 7, knowing you have your brothers, they’re family you’ve been around, you form this bond and it helps in the trying times of July and August – the month of hate as Max Scherzer called it. When it’s grindy time, if the clubhouse sticks together through those difficult times because of friendships and relationships created it makes those times easier.”
Eaton said his desire to win a World Series is as strong as it was before he won one.
“The taste will be better than it was before because now I know how cool it is,” he said. “What it does for your team, which is your family, what it means for the city. If you ask the South Side of Chicago, 2005 really changed everybody. Even today everybody talks about that team, what was good, how they got through the playoffs, the pitching on that team, and it changed the South Side of Chicago forever. Having that lasting impression on a city and a fan base and millions of people, it’s cool.”