PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - So why is Davey Johnson starting Xavier Nady - a guy who was out of a job a week and a half ago and is signed to a straight minor league contract -at first base today?
Reason No. 1: With Adam LaRoche (left foot), Mark DeRosa (calf cramps) and Michael Morse (lat) injured, he needs to fill the corner infield and outfield spots somehow.
"He plays outfield and first base," Johnson said of Nady. "Last I checked, I had some guys on injured reserve there."
Injured reserve? I thought I left the NFL to cover baseball.
Reason No. 2: Johnson figures now's the time to see exactly where Nady is as he works back from a fractured left hand, an injury which ended his 2011 season.
"I don't know if he's ready, but they told me he came into camp in good shape," Johnson said. "The last couple years, he's had some injury problems. So why not look at him?
"This is the time that you look at every conceivable option that you can dream of. I'm going to look at it, whether it's an immediate solution or a down-the-road solution. That's my job."
Johnson said that it's way too early to talk about whether Nady has any chance at all to crack the Nationals' opening day roster, given the fact that he's only been with the organization 10 days.
Today is actually Johnson's first real chance to watch Nady up close. The Nationals skipper walked out to the minor league fields to see Nady in a minor league game a couple days ago, but he didn't get to catch the 33-year-old do all that much before Johnson needed to take part in an interview for the MLB Network.
Johnson saw Nady make a running catch in left field, and then watched him step into the box against left-hander Danny Rosenbaum.
"I got to see him go up to the plate against Rosenbaum and I got to see his stance," Johnson said. "And then Rosebaum hit him in the ass. So I got a real good scouting report there that he didn't charge the mound. He ran to first. But he did look real good from what I saw."
Yeah, I was laughing for a good 5-10 seconds after that one.
As I was writing this post, Nady stepped up for his first at-bat as a National. He struck out swinging at a Jonathan Niese curveball in the dirt.
The Nats and Mets are tied 0-0 here in the middle of the second, as Jordan Zimmermann takes the mound after a perfect first inning of work.