Capps' thoughts turn to dad in Atlanta

Capps' thoughts turn to dad in Atlanta

ATLANTA -- For the first time since he reached the Majors with Pittsburgh, Matt Capps' father wasn't at Turner Field when his son came home to pitch against the Braves.

Mike Capps died at age 61 in October after falling off a ladder at his home in the Atlanta suburb of Douglasville and hitting his head on the concrete driveway. He went into cardiac arrest and never regained consciousness.

"I miss him very much," Capps said Monday before the Nationals' series opener against the Braves. "He was always here when I came back to Atlanta with the Pirates. But he's with me now every time I pitch, not just when he is physically in the ballpark."

It was when the Nationals' closer attended Braves games at old Fulton County Stadium that Capps' father made sure that his son realized a baseball career was a possibility, not just a wild dream.

Inside his Nationals cap, Capps has written this next to his jersey number and a cross: "Someone has to be." That's a takeoff on his father's words. When they would go to Braves games together, Capps would often hear, "Someone has to be the best. Why not you?"

Capps, 26, was not offered a contract by the Pirates after a dismal 2009, but he signed with Washington as a free agent and went into the Braves series leading the Majors with 22 saves in 26 attempts.

"I still listen to my father," Capps said. "I talk with him every day."

-- Guy Curtright