Nady finds him­self in mix for bench spot

The Washington Times Daily - - Sports - BY AMANDA COMAK

PORT ST. LU­CIE, FLA. | Ten days ago, when the Washington Na­tion­als an­nounced the sign­ing of ver­sa­tile veteran Xavier Nady to a mi­nor league con­tract, there ap­peared no chance Nady would get a shot in mi­nor league games be­fore the spring was out.

Nady, the vic­tim of an in­jury-rid­dled ca­reer, ar­rived with lit­tle more than two weeks re­main­ing in spring train­ing. The plan was for him to start prepa­ra­tions in mi­nor league camp with a ticket to Triple-a.

Those plans changed Wed­nes­day. Nady was slot­ted into the Na­tion­als’ start­ing lineup, hit­ting sev­enth and play­ing first base, in their 3-2 vic­tory over the New York Mets. He will re­main on the ma­jor league side for the rest of spring train­ing.

“He plays out­field and first base,” man­ager Davey John­son said. “Last I checked, I had some guys in­jured there, so why not look at him?”

The in­juries to out­fielder Michael Morse, and to a lesser ex­tent first base­man Adam Laroche, have put a charge in the Na­tion­als’ bench com­pe­ti­tion as spring train­ing heads into the home stretch. Laroche (foot) has been cleared to re­turn to the lineup Thurs­day. Morse is still doubt­ful for Open­ing Day de­spite pos­i­tive re­sults from a sono­gram that showed heal­ing in his right lat strain.

So John­son has thrown Nady in as a late en­trant into the bench com­pe­ti­tion, fight­ing with Brett Car­roll, Ja­son Michaels and Chad Tracy for the team’s re­main­ing one or two (if Morse starts the sea­son on the dis­abled list) ros­ter spots.

Nady will be in the lineup again Thurs­day, most likely in the out­field, and John­son ac­knowl­edged that he’s put him on the same level as the rest of those bench can­di­dates. Car­roll would ap­pear to have the in­side track on the first spot as a right-handed com­ple­ment to Rick Ankiel who can play cen­ter field, but Nady’s ver­sa­til­ity at first as well as in the out­field could give him a leg up as well.

Nady ac­knowl­edged that he may start the sea­son in Triple-a, a prospect he came to terms with the longer the off­sea­son went be­fore he got a job. His tim­ing at the plate isn’t per­fect, and Nady didn’t pro­nounce him­self Open­ing Day-ready, other than say­ing, “I feel good.”

“My goal is just to ob­vi­ously be ready when­ever the sit­u­a­tion calls for me,” Nady said. “And we’ll go from there. Whether it’s first, out­field or what­ever. A lot of things can hap­pen. I’ll just stay ready and con­trib­ute when my name’s called.”

With six games re­main­ing on the spring sched­ule and seven in the team’s ex­hi­bi­tion sea­son, Nady has a small win­dow in which to im­press. But there’s no ques­tion he’s thrown a curve into the Na­tion­als’ bench com­pe­ti­tion.

“[Play­ers], they know their com­pe­ti­tion,” John­son said. “Whether you’re talk­ing about the out­field sit­u­a­tion, the first base sit­u­a­tion, I don’t have to say did­dly. They know it bet­ter than I do.”

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