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Navy thanks Nationals as they play ball again

Members of the Washington Nationals have a moment of silence for the victims of the Navy Yard shooting
Members of the Washington Nationals have a moment of silence for the victims of the Navy Yard shooting before playing the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on September 17, 2013 in Washington, DC.

US Navy Admiral James "Sandy" Winnefeld, a vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, thanked the Washington Nationals on Tuesday for the baseball team's aid after a shooting tragedy.

Twelve people were killed Monday in the Navy Yard, located near the Major League Baseball club's ballpark, by a gunman who was later killed by police.

The Nationals, who postponed their scheduled game Monday against Atlanta to Tuesday afternoon, opened their parking lots and the stadium area to care for the families of people who were in the Navy Yard, feeding and caring for some of those who fled the area as police and law-enforcement officials secured the area.

Winnefeld met with players in the locker room before Tuesday's game and gave them Navy caps to wear during batting practice.

"From the Navy family to the Nationals, we want to say thank you," Winnefeld told Nationals manager Davey Johnson.

A woman hugs her child while reuniting at a gathering point for family members inside Nationals Park, September 16, 2013
A woman hugs her child while reuniting at a gathering point for family members of Navy Yard employees that was set up inside Nationals Park in the wake of the shooting September 16, 2013 in Washington, DC.

"Hopefully we will do something to take people's minds off things for a few hours," Johnson said. "That's all we can do."

Nationals players were still coming to grips with the shooting tragedy so near the area where they work, and in many cases live, as they prepared to face the Braves in key games for both clubs as they chase playoff berths in the final two weeks of the six-month season.

"It has been a weird 24 hours," said Nationals outfielder Denard Span. "It's a funny feeling. It will probably be a couple of days before you feel safe and realize what happened."

Nationals relief pitcher Craig Stammen called the situation "almost surreal" and added "You don't think about people getting shot half a block away from your stadium. We have to get past it and move on."

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