The first day of workouts at Nationals Park revealed a welcome sight as outfielder Brian Goodwin returned to the Nationals. Goodwin went through the entire 3 1/2-hour workout without a hitch: running, fielding, catching fly balls and spending extra time in the batter’s box.
Goodwin has been out since Aug. 14 with a left groin strain. Recently, he has returned to games and built at-bats at instructional league workouts in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Goodwin hit .251 with 21 doubles, one triple, 13 homers, six stolen bases and 30 RBIs in 74 games this season for the Nats. He played a major role in the outfield after injuries to Adam Eaton and Michael A. Taylor weakened depth.
Manager Dusty Baker was very pleased to see Goodwin back and appearing healthy.
“Goodie looked pretty good,” Baker said. “I didn’t see any signs of him favoring it or him limping. He swung effectively and so Goodie looked pretty good. He looked very good, actually.”
Bryce Harper and Goodwin did not have the advantage some players might have had to rehab with their organization’s affiliates as they got back from injury because their injuries happened so late in the season. So Goodwin had to get games in with the fall instructional league club.
“He was fielding, hitting, doing all sort of baseball-related stuff,” Baker said. “He got nine at-bats one day, I think. That’s tiresome in itself. He was able to do everything baseball-related. I wanted to get a look at him today, tomorrow and Thursday and make a determination.”
Goodwin played three times as many games with the Nats this season as he did last year (22 games). He became a much more important part of the equation this season and was part of a crew of players that substituted for starters not allowing the Nats to skip a beat on their way to another division title.
“Goodie and (Wilmer) Difo and all those guys, they saved us, especially when we lost (Adam) Eaton, then we lost Michael Taylor,” Baker said. “Here comes Goodie to the rescue. Goodie won a lot of games for us, defensively and offensively. He hit some timely home runs. Goodie, he’s certainly put himself on the map of this organization. He’s been here a while, but he broke through. He’s shown tremendous improvement.”
With Goodwin having missed 44 games, how much rust will affect his game this week and does that hinder his ability to play in the postseason?
“He’s done everything but that,” Baker said of Goodwin playing in Major League games. “But he has faced live pitching. Probably similar to where (Kyle) Schwarber was last year at this time. Very similar. You never know until they get in there. But you know that he’s a definite threat. He brings power. He brings speed. And he appears to be healthy.”
Without getting specific, Baker spoke on roster decision-making for the first series against the Cubs.
“Well, in contention for a spot (or) to be on the taxi squad in case we need them in the next round or the next round after that,” Baker said. “It’s a good sign what they mean to this club or what they mean to this organization and they might indeed help us at some point in time.”
Infielder Stephen Drew has now been sent to West Palm Beach to get work in the with the instructional league club. He has been nursing his way back from a left abdominal strain.