- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 11, 2017

Adam Eaton is moving around better. He can place some weight on his left leg. Most of the time he is still using crutches to help carry the burden during his rehabilitation from ACL reconstruction surgery.

Eaton was placed on the disabled list April 29 with what was initially called a “left knee strain.” He actually had tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Eaton chose the patellar tendon graft to fix the injury.

Washington announced the timeline for his return to be 6-9 months. Among the early steps in the recovery process are reactivating the quadriceps muscle, re-establishing full extension of the leg — or hyperextension, if it was in place prior to the injury — then building quad strength and harmony for the muscle to fire when asked. After that, it’s a strengthening progression that allows the leg to carry more weight, move faster and, usually in what has become a commonplace surgery, return to its normal state.

Eaton said he is ahead of schedule to some degree. He already has full extension and has found it odd that he had to retrain his quad to do what was always a normal function because of muscle memory.

“I’ve never had an experience where I’ve told my leg to lift and it doesn’t lift,” Eaton said Sunday. “It’s really a surreal feeling. I have to tell my quad to contract to hold me knee in place. It’s definitely a grind.”

When asked if there was damage to the knee beyond the ACL tear, Eaton declined to comment. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo had said previously that surgeons repaired other ligament damage and the meniscus in addition to the ACL.

Eaton chose to do his rehabilitation work around the team. He said he watches a lot of baseball — he doesn’t have much of a choice, at this point — and hopes his presence around the team can be beneficial.

“Just in the sense that I’m dedicated to them, just as they’ve been dedicated to me,” Eaton said. “The trade this offseason probably wasn’t the most popular one. I love the city. I love the people within the organization. I love everyone that was involved.”

When the team goes on the road, Eaton continues his rehabilitation work. He said physical therapy and occupational therapy combine to take about 3-4 hours per day, six day per week.

“I think I do a very good job of focusing every single day,” Eaton said. “But, at times my mind wanders about big picture. Not even just this year. Not even just next year. But, the longevity of my career and how it may be shaped with my injury.”

Prior to the injury, Eaton helped create a formidable duo atop the Nationals order where he hit in front of Trea Turner. Eaton had a .393 on-base percentage when he was injured. He has been replaced by Michael A. Taylor, who hits at the bottom of the lineup.

Sitting around has been a new experience for Eaton after being a fleet athlete throughout his life.

“It’s been the experience of a lifetime, hopefully I don’t have to go through it again,” Eaton said.

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