VIERA, Fla. - Much like ligament replacement surgery in the elbow is named after a pitcher who underwent such a procedure, Mark DeRosa thinks wrist surgeries should have his name attached to them.
"They named Tommy John (surgery) after him," DeRosa joked.
DeRosa has probably earned that right. His left wrist has been under the knife enough times that the 37-year-old could probably perform the procedure on himself if he needed it again at any point down the road.
Good thing DeRosa's a righty.
The hope is, though, that after over two years of pain and frustration, these wrist issues are finally behind him.
DeRosa has had three surgeries on the wrist since first feeling pain during the 2009 season, and even though he had success in his return to the majors in August of 2011, going 18-for-57 (.367) with six walks, his bat lacked pop. DeRosa had just one extra-base hit in those 57 at-bats, a double.
Yesterday, in a Grapefruit League game against the Braves, DeRosa finally showed off that power stroke, smoking a ball through a heavy wind and over the left field wall for his first homer of any kind since Feb. 28 of last year. DeRosa's last regular season home run came back on opening day in 2010.
"I've been talking to Rick Eckstein about moving me out of Mike Morse and Zim (Ryan Zimmerman) and (Jayson) Werth's BP group because these guys are hitting homers and they're giving me a complex," DeRosa said. "But I'm pretty excited that I got that out of the way so at least I know I'm capable.
"My swing has felt great, but I haven't been hitting any balls out of the ballpark. So until you do it, to do it off (Braves lefty Jonny Venters), a guy who's a dominating reliever ... it kind of woke me up a little bit."
DeRosa, who uses his wrists while swinging more than most hitters, says he's not feeling any soreness at all in the wrist at this point, which seems to surprise him given that he says he's doing nothing differently in the training room or in his workouts.
His knock yesterday was just one home run in a spring training game, of course, but to DeRosa, this clearly meant a lot more than that. Manager Davey Johnson said that DeRosa was pretty animated when he got back to the dugout after the home run, yelling and soaking up the high fives and pats on the back from his teammates.
"It was pretty important," DeRosa acknowledged. "It was. I mean, it'll mean nothing if two weeks from now I start getting sore, but for right now, every day seems to be getting better, I seem to be getting more confident.
"I think the biggest thing was I had a different mindset. He threw the first pitch down, it was a pretty dissimilar pitch and I kind of stepped out of the box and I told myself if (the next) pitch was a little more up, to go get it. Normally it'd be, 'Guard against it, maybe push it to right, get a base hit.' I'm getting more confident in the ability to trust that I'm going to get there."
Dan Kolko was named MASNsports.com's Nationals beat writer after spending the last four years covering the Baltimore Ravens for MASN and also serving as the Web site's deputy managing editor. A University of Delaware graduate originally from Silver Spring, Md., Dan grew up a die-hard baseball fan and is thrilled for the opportunity to cover the Nationals. Before joining MASN, Dan worked in production at Comcast SportsNet in Bethesda, Md., and also interned at the "George Michael Sports Machine" in Washington, D.C.
Follow Dan Kolko on Twitter: @DanKolko