Nationals visit Little Leagues in Washington

Nationals visit Little Leagues in Washington

WASHINGTON -- Gio Gonzalez and Clint Robinson spent one hour Saturday morning talking to members of Washington's Northwest Little League and facing all the hard-hitting questions.

"Who was your favorite player growing up?"

Before either could answer, they were cut off by a mob in unison: "Bryce Harper! Bryce Harper!"

Gonzalez and Robinson were two of 11 Nats, including manager Matt Williams, who scattered the nation's capital visiting its eight Little Leagues in an effort to promote youth baseball.

In March, the club donated caps, T-shirts and jerseys to the city's Little Leagues and Parks & Rec Little Leagues. Nearly 4,500 participants ranging from pre-school to high school wear the apparel.

"Just trying to do what's right," said Gonzalez, who related the day to when he attended baseball camps at the University of Miami and had his eyes opened by former pros. "Talking to kids and giving them a chance to see it from a baseball players' eyes. What it feels like to be in the big leagues and stuff like that. It's always nice to come back and give back to the kids."

Five-and-a-half-year-old Nikita Duncan and his twin sister Sophia didn't know who their favorite player was or if they'd ever been to a Nationals game, but they were sure their favorite moment of the morning was when Robinson left his stool and jumped for the sky.

The jump, encouraged by the kids and challenged by Gonzalez, served to prove that baseball was a better fit for the 6-foot-5 outfielder than basketball. It was one of several moments that brought the crowd of roughly 150 kids and their parents to laughter -- Gonzalez being asked if he was jealous of Jordan Zimmermann's 2014 no-hitter was another.

Before posing for questions and signing a few autographs, both players talked about their path to the big leagues, hobbies away from baseball and how they learned to deal with failure.

Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.