Nady trying to slowly lift himself from early-season funk

You look at Xavier Nady's season numbers, and they're still less than ideal.

Far less than ideal.

Nady is batting just .147, has a .489 OPS and has driven in only four runs in 68 at-bats.

But if you look at the last few games, you'll see that perhaps the Nationals' veteran outfielder is slowly starting to trend upward. Nady now has home runs in each of his last two games and has driven in a run in three of his last five contests. His average - down to .119 on May 6 - has jumped nearly 30 points in that five-game span.

"It feels good, obviously," Nady said. "You just show up every day and keep trying to work on things and keep your confidence going. Hopefully things start going in the right direction and you kind of relax."

Last night's bomb was a deep shot that came down about halfway up the rows of seats in left and marked 100 homers for Nady's career. Given all that he's had to battle through during his 11-year career (two Tommy John surgeries, an emergency appendectomy and a fractured hand, among other ailments), Nady seemed to really be enjoying the postgame scene last night.

"I'm thankful," Nady said. "I was thinking about it. With all the injuries that I've had, I'm just thankful. Second Tommy John, you never know what's going to happen. Thankful to have the opportunity to still throw on a uniform and still run out there. It's a lot of fun and it's been a grind to stay on that field."

While the 33-year-old is thrilled to be starting a climb out of a deep funk, he knows he has a ways left to go. He isn't going to blame his early struggles on a late-spring signing or a lack of spring at-bats ("You never look for excuses ... Why I started out slow, I don't know, but I'll just keep plugging away," he said,) but will instead focus on trying to keep those numbers trending upward.

As Nady has searched for ways to get jump-started, he's been able to turn to his friend and lockermate Adam LaRoche for advice.

LaRoche, as has been well-documented, is plenty familiar with having poor offensive numbers in April and May. Knowing Nady from their time together as teammates with the Pirates, LaRoche has felt comfortable chiming in with a few pointers and trying to guide Nady through his slump.

"I've been trying to help with the mental side for a few of the guys who are getting off to slow starts just because I've been there," LaRoche said. "I know what they're feeling. It's frustrating. You literally go out and try to hit a grand slam with nobody on base. You just try to do too much and it just gets worse and worse.

"That's when it's nice to have guys who've been through it say, 'Listen, I've been here. Back everything off, slow the game down again, somehow try to make it fun again.' If you can do that, they'll figure it out sooner or later."

On a separate note, it's been announced that the third annual "A Night at the Park" to benefit Ryan Zimmerman's ziMS Foundation will be held on June 14 at Nationals Park. The event will feature the band Guster.

Ticket information for the event can be found at www.anightatthepark.com.

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