The 2023 regular season for the Washington Nationals begins Thursday as the Nats take on the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park. Here’s what you need to know.
It’s time to play ball!
The 2023 regular season for the Washington Nationals officially kicked off Thursday as large crowds flocked to Nationals Park in Southeast D.C. to watch the team take on the Atlanta Braves.
The team will play in a new stadium with new turf and clay, as well as all-new bases—three inches larger this year than last—and fans will be able to enjoy a number of new food offerings at the park.
The gates were opened at 11:30am with the game set to start after 1pm after much pomp and circumstance for the Opening Day festivities.
The pre-match ceremonies began on Thursday morning.
Fan-favorite World Series champion Gerardo Parra, known for the “Baby Shark” music during the team’s 2019 World Series series, helped kick off the new season by riding the Budweiser Clydesdale horses in a parade around the Navy Yard neighborhood.
There will be other ceremonies before the game begins including the US Armed Forces Color Guard presenting the colors, singer D.C. Washington performing the national anthem and a flyover from the 121st Fighter Squadron of the Air National Guard.
Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, will roll out the first ceremonial pitch.
The Nats will honor their former managing director owner Ted Lerner, who passed away in February, by placing him in the team’s Ring of Honor.
Read more about what to expect on opening day here.
Fans heading to the park experienced sunny, pleasant weather with blue skies, light winds, and temperatures in the 50s.
The game is also broadcast on Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN).
How exciting is opening day? WTOP’s Kyle Cooper asked Nationals Screech mascot and Teddy Roosevelt for their “thoughts” on the upcoming season.
Hang out with Screech and Teddy at the Ballpark today @employee pic.twitter.com/rSWzBikgpS
– Kyle Cooper (KRCOOPER) March 30, 2023
What’s new at Nationals Park?
There are a number of new additions within the stadium such as local vendors of food such as slow cooked fresh ribs, hand made sandwiches and homemade crab dip.
These are some new ways to get your food fast, Jonathan Stahl, Vice President of Experience and Hospitality for Nationals, told WTOP’s Kyle Cooper.
“When you get to the concession stand, you will see the food fresh on the heat slide,” he said, adding that fans can easily get their food and checkout from a nearby kiosk, which “will get you back to their seats faster.”
Also, there will be easy-to-go drink options and new lines of premium products like T-shirts and new bobbleheads.
John Turnure, the Nats’ director of field operations, said the team will be operating in a new field this season, which began growing in January. Other minor modifications were made to accommodate the new rules, which were three inches wider this year.
See more new additions to Nats Park here.
The starting pitchers for the Nets and Braves are Patrick Corbin and Max Fried, respectively.
The Nationals enter the 2023 campaign after a disappointing 2022 season when they finished with a 55-107 record. But according to WTOP’s Dave Preston, the path back to respectability is under way.
Nationals Radio Network host and WTOP alum Craig Heist recently joined the DC Sports Huddle to talk about the best reasons Nats fans can hope for the future. Hear his thoughts here on this week’s episode.
WTOP’s Tadeusz Abidje and Kyle Cooper contributed to this report.
“Student. Incurable problem solver. Amateur baconaholic. Introvert. Infuriatingly humble music fanatic.”