McLouth’s value rises as Harper goes down to injury

Outfielder Nate McLouth had a nice breakthrough late in Sunday’s game when he hit a solo shot, his first homer for the Nationals.

McLouth said the homer might be a signal that he is starting to feel good in each at-bat.

“I felt good all day,” McLouth said. “For the most part, I felt halfway decent at the plate. Just wasn’t getting any results. It happens sometimes like that. You can’t change your approach. You got to just trust your process.”

McLouth said they tried several tactics to try to slow down the Padres’ Ian Kennedy, but was unable to get to the right-hander after one in the first frame. McLouth was hoping his late inning round-tripper would start a big rally.

“You always hope that,” McLouth said. “We couldn’t just get much going today. I thought Kennedy threw a phenomenal game. We maybe had him on the ropes the first couple of innings, got his pitch count up a little bit. Bur after that he was lights out.

“He was throwing all his pitches for strikes and he was throwing a lot breaking balls for strikes. You have to respect that. He was getting ahead in the count. He was really good today.”

With the news that Bryce Harper is on the disabled list with a left thumb injury. McLouth knows he will get more playing time. He and teammates like Kevin Fraandsen, Tyler Moore and Stephen Souza Jr. will have to pick up the slack in the outfield.

“You try to hold these guys places down until they get back,” McLouth said. “It is unfortunate when guys get hurt, especially the number of guys in this month that have gotten hurt for us.”

Playing everyday can’t hurt McLouth and his ability to get into a rhythm. As a starter for the Orioles last season, McLouth played in 127 games with a .261 average, 29 doubles, four triples, 12 homers, 28 stolen bases and 35 RBIs. He is certainly not going to reach the power numbers that Harper would get to, but hitting a home runs Sunday indicates he is capable and his value will be justified if the Nationals don’t skip a beat with him in the outfield for the next three weeks.

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