This isn’t the real Xavier Nady.
Who would be the first to admit it? Xavier Nady.
The Nationals outfielder is looking to get back to a consistent level after a slow start. Nady has hit only .159 through 14 games and 44 at-bats. He has managed only seven hits in the early stages with nine strikeouts.
But there has been a pretty significant highlight. Nady’s pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning April 13 against the Cincinnati Reds was the Nationals’ first run and saved the game. It was a shining example of the potential of Nady in his new role.
Then, Tuesday night, a sweet double that led off a big two-run seventh to help the Nationals upend the Padres.
Unfortunately, Nady would be the first to concede he would like to have a few more of those kind of highlights.
“I am not putting excuses on anything, to tell you the truth,” Nady said. “I know I’m better than this. It is obviously frustrating when you feel sometimes like you had a good at-bat and you might not get the results you want.”
When you are a hitter and you get into a funk, you need at-bats to get out of that slump. Nady believes that is what he is looking for right now. Just one hit. Then, it turns into another hit and so on.
“OK, there it is,” Nady said, describing what he would feel when he finally breaks through. “I will get back in the swing of things. I am just going to keep grinding away and try to find something that makes me feel more comfortable in the box or put betters swings on pitches and go from there.”
So how do you pinpoint the problem? Is it something he is doing in the box that is affecting his production? Could he be thinking about it too much?
“Honestly, I think it is a little bit of both,” Nady reasoned. “It could be mechanical or it could be mental. There is a lot that goes into hitting and pitch selection. You got to start with basics and go back to trusting yourself. That is the most important part. You might hit one off the end of the bat and it bloops in in your first at-bat and your back in it. Until then, you keep grinding away and look to swing at good pitches.”
There is no question Nady is important to manager Davey Johnson and what he envisions as a stocked bench. Nady has played in close to 900 major league games and has a career .273 average. He can hit. He has the experience, having played for the Padres, Yankees, Mets, Pirates, Cubs and Diamondbacks.
There is another reason he is here: Johnson’s belief in the veteran is why Nady will be given ample time to pull through this. Johnson also confirmed Mark DeRosa will get less at-bats in the near future because he wanted to simplify the equation in the outfield.
Nady is still part of that equation. That is all he really wants. And that speaks volumes as to his importance to this team with starting left fielder Michael Morse out of lineup for an extended period of time.
“I have had plenty of opportunities and most importantly, we are winning games,” Nady said. “But I am hoping to pick up the slack. It is the first time I have been healthy in a couple of years. You want to get back to being productive. I am not going to give up and bury myself. I am going to keep trying to figure it out and turn it around.”