Four Nats make 'humbling' trip to Walter Reed

Four Nats make 'humbling' trip to Walter Reed

Four Nats make 'humbling' trip to Walter Reed
WASHINGTON -- The first room the four Washington Nationals players entered was that of a man with no arms and no legs.

Ross Detwiler, Craig Stammen, Ian Desmond and Ryan Mattheus were hardly shocked -- not at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where scenes like that are fairly commonplace.

What surprised the players, however, was the man's upbeat nature. He seemed overjoyed to meet the four players, who traveled to Walter Reed on Friday to visit the patients and try to brighten their days.

"He was probably happier than anybody in the whole hospital," Stammen said.

"The guy didn't stop smiling," Mattheus added. "He was making jokes, cracking jokes about us having all of our limbs. He just found a way to put a smile on his face."

While Stammen and Desmond had visited the hospital before, Detwiler and Mattheus were first-timers.

"I don't think you can ever prepare yourself to see someone in that situation," said Mattheus, who had previously been involved with the Washington Nationals Wounded Warrior Amputee softball team. "To see the guys that are fresh out of their injuries, and it's still a real life experience for them right now, and I can imagine it's traumatic, too. But they find a way to put a smile on their face, and it's pretty amazing."

As a guide led them from room to room for about two hours, the players talked much more about the patients' histories than their own.

"They're fighting to be able to let us do what we do," Detwiler said. "All of the guys were really happy to see us, and were willing to talk about their stories."

Stammen said the group ran into some pretty big baseball fans on their trip, and that it seemed like SportsCenter was on in almost every room. While the patients were excited to see them, the players were honored to be able to meet and interact with people who had sacrificed so much in service of their country.

"It's obviously a very humbling experience to go there and be around so many guys who risk their lives for our freedom and, in a sense, paid the cost," Desmond said. "For them to thank us for going, it's like, 'No, no guys, we thank you. We wouldn't be able to do anything we do without you going out there and fighting for us.'"

Stammen and Mattheus both said the experience put their comfortable lives as baseball players into perspective, and both of the newcomers said they'd be interested in going back again.

"I'll go every chance I get," Mattheus said.

"I'll definitely go next time," added Detwiler.

Greg Luca is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.