Coming into the 2012 season, the Nationals felt very confident with their corner outfield situation for the first time in a long time. Last season’s team MVP, Michael Morse, was set to start the season in left while last season’s huge acquisition, Jayson Werth, claimed right. Their back-ups, Roger Bernadina and veteran Mark DeRosa, were also solid experienced major leaguers. Everything seemed pretty much set, until Spring Training arrived.
On March 6, only a handful of games into the season, Morse was pulled from the lineup after being diagnosed with a right lat strain. At first the injury was declared day-to-day and seemed benign, but as time went on, the news got worse and worse. For insurance, the Nationals signed 11-year veteran Xavier Nady to a minor league contract on March 18. Everyone, including the Nationals, expected Nady to start the season in Triple-A, but as Morse seemed more and more unlikely to open the season in the majors, Nady got a chance at the end of spring training.
Somehow he capitalized on this opportunity and made the 25-man roster heading into the regular season. Since that decision, Nady has shown little value for the Nationals. In April, he started 13 games, mainly in left field, and made four pinch hit appearances batting .130 with seven hits in 54 at bats. He also struck out 14 times while doubling once and driving in one run on one homerun. This May, nothing has changed. In 14 games with six starts he has averaged .172 with another seven strikeouts. Combined he is averaging a measly .1345 with a .193 OBP. To make matters even worse, with runners in scoring position, he has a single hit in 25 chances. These horrible stats alone are enough to justify Nady’s departure, but now there are two players who may finally finish the job.
The first, Steve Lombardozzi, is the surprise of this season. A converted minor league gold glove second baseman, Lombardozzi made the team after learning the outfield in spring training. He is hitting .320 in 103 at bats with only six strikeouts. He has also filled one of the Nationals’ biggest gaps, the lead off position. Currently, he is getting most of the playing time in left, and manager Davey Johson indicated Lombardozzi will continue to get time.
Xavier Nady’s time playing baseball is slowly coming to a close. He has had a good career, but with the Nationals nothing has clicked. The only reason he is still around is all the injuries the Nationals have experienced, and Chad Tracy's groin injury will do nothing but extend the time Nady spends on the team, but that doesn't mean he should be there.