Mark DeRosa did not remember the last time he started at shortstop. He thought it was 2005.
When told it was Sept. 2, 2006, DeRosa nodded his head and said, “OK, that sounds about right.”
So for the first time as a starter at shortstop in six seasons, DeRosa went 2-for-4 with a single, double and run scored in the Nationals’ 4-2 victory over the Phillies.
He did have one errant throw from the position, but was in the middle of a 1-6-3 double play to end the second inning.
“I botched the routine one,” DeRosa lamented. “I feel all right. It is angles, foot speed, trying to keep up with guys like (Ian) Desmond and the good shortstops, but it was fun to be out there.”
And DeRosa remembered playing the position for several years with the Braves, before another top prospect arrived.
“(I am) a little older and a little heavier around my legs, no doubt,” DeRosa said. “But it is a position I played my whole life, coming up through the minors. Not until the arrival of Rafael Furcal had I started bouncing around.”
And even with the two-hit performance Tuesday, DeRosa said it has been an up-and-down season with injury issues and some struggles offensively to battle through. Playing for a 97-win team can make those moments easier to take.
“For me personally, it has been a frustrating season, but I don’t even worry about it,” DeRosa said. “What this team has accomplished, and what I have been able to be a part of this year is pretty special. The personal stuff goes out the door. We got a chance to do something really great and win a World Series. But for me personally, to finish with a couple of knocks is pretty nice.”
There was some discussion before the game with manager Davey Johnson about resting seven starters in a game that could help the Nationals earn the best record in the National League and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
During pregame, Johnson said he believed the bench players could get the job done.
“I have all the confidence in the world with the guys out there,” Johnson said. “A lot of times those guys have been regulars.”
After the game, Johnson came into the press conference room beaming like a proud papa.
“How about that goon squad? Told you they were tough,” Johnson said.
DeRosa said the “goon squad,” the affectionate nickname given to the utility players ever since Chad Tracy got off to a hot start, gets to have fun every time they contribute to a win.
“It is stuff on the bus that we can needle the starters about,” DeRosa said. “The goon squad comes through again. We got some guys that are capable of playing every day. Tyler Moore and Steve Lombardozzi are guys that can play every day.
“(Roger Bernadina) is another guy that could play every day, he has had a breakout season. Me and Trace, we know our roles. That is why this clubhouse works, because everybody pulls for each other, and (we) are excited to make that next step.”