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Nationals owner Mark Lerner talks trying to return to normal on Opening Day

Before Opening Day, the Nats owner talked baseball in a pandemic, the players he is excited about, and the future of All-Star Juan Soto.

WASHINGTON — This year will be an Opening Day to remember for the Washington Nationals and their fans. The 2020 Major League Baseball season was shortened to 60 games because of the pandemic and Opening Day took place in July. 

This year, as the world tries to return to normal, so does Major League Baseball.

Thursday night the Nats take on the New York Mets. Before the first pitch, our Matt Gregory sat down with Nationals owner Mark Lerner to talk pandemic, Opening Day, and the future of Juan Soto.

Matt Gregory: “How has the pandemic and not having fans in the ballpark affected the business aspect of the Nationals?”

Mark Lerner: “It's pretty obvious you know. We're trying to survive like everybody else. Nobody's in the building, we have no concessions, so nothing."  

"You know we're trying to get through it. We think we're being smart about it. We we've done everything in our power to keep moving forward and that's what we'll continue to do.”

Matt: “I know this probably a lot like asking ‘which one is your favorite kid?’ But, is there anybody you're looking forward to seeing play this year?”

Mark Lerner: “Oh well I’m really excited to see our new guys. Josh Bell, Kyle Schwarber, Jon Lester. They are all really great people. I’m looking forward to see a rejuvenated Ryan Zimmerman." 

"He looks incredible in spring training. Victor Robles looks great. I’m just excited about the season. I think we're a much better team than we were in 2020 for a lot of reasons.”

Matt: “What are you looking forward to besides the players or the season? Something you really would can’t wait to see on Opening Day?”

Mark Lerner: “The fans in the stands on Thursday night.  The excitement. They're going to have. Those 5,000 are probably going to sound like 50,000 people.”

Matt: “I have to ask. Juan Soto.  Everyone wants to see him as a National for the rest of his career. How do you guys work on that this summer?”

Mark Lerner: “We do too! So hopefully one day we can make that happen. We're totally focused on it and like anything else there is a negotiation. 

"The fans can rest assured that we're going to do our best to keep him here after the three more years he's already committed to.”

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