Nats extend Tracy’s contract through 2013 (with quotes); Desmond scratched

PHILADELPHIA - Rewarding one of their most productive bench bats this season, the Nationals have extended the contract of veteran infielder Chad Tracy through the 2013 season.

Tracy signed a minor league deal with the Nats this winter after playing the 2011 season in Japan. The 32-year-old battled for a roster spot in camp and admitted that if he hadn’t made the Nationals’ 25-man roster, he might have opted for retirement.

But Tracy earned a roster spot as a left-handed bat off Johnson’s bench, and he’s been one of the most productive pinch-hitters in the league this season, ranking tied for second in the majors with 10 pinch-hit RBIs despite missing 55 games with a groin injury.

“You had two parties that wanted to be together,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “He’s been a great teammate and he’s been great off the bench. We thought it was a good time to lock him up so he didn’t get to free agency and test the waters. We know we have a guy we like, and a guy that’s performed for us. So we felt it was a good time to lock him up for next year.

“Davey’s said it time and again: We’re always looking at today with an eye on tomorrow. We felt it was a good opportunity for us to get a really good player at a reasonable cost, that both sides are happy. We started the conversations a while back, and they came to fruition today.”

Overall, Tracy has hit .283 with three homers and 13 RBIs this season. For the first time in a little while, he’ll go into the offseason knowing where he’ll be the following year.

“It feels really good,” Tracy said. “These guys gave me an opportunity in spring training and gave me an opportunity to come here and help this team and show my value. It’s great. I’m very happy, and I thank Rizzo and those guys for everything.”

Tracy could’ve played out this season and tried to turn his solid numbers into a multi-year deal on the free agent market, as Laynce Nix did last year. Instead, he opted to re-up for one year in a comfortable place with a team he knows has a chance to be successful for a while.

“You’re on a first-place team over 30 games over .500, and they’re offering you an extension. There’s really not a whole lot better than that,” Tracy said.

Meanwhile, shortstop Ian Desmond has been scratched from tonight’s lineup as a precaution, the Nats announced.

After hyperextending his right knee in Wednesday’s loss to the Braves, Desmond insisted the injury was nothing major, but the Nationals are playing things safe and holding him out today.

Danny Espinosa will slide over and play shortstop tonight, and Steve Lombardozzi will play second and hit leadoff.

Here’s the Nationals’ new lineup:

2B Steve Lombardozzi
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Jayson Werth
SS Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
P Edwin Jackson

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