Justin Maxwell had three stints with the Nationals last year - one in April, when he went 3-for-8 with a couple of stolen bases but was sent down because the team didn't have room for him, one in May when he went hitless in eight games, and one in September, when he hit four homers in the month and finally began to look like the player the Nationals have long hoped he could be.
If the third trip to the majors was the breakthrough, the first one was the one that set it up.
Maxwell said he was upset by the team's decision to send him down in April and admitted it stuck with him for a long time at Triple-A Syracuse. He didn't understand what the team had planned for him and was unsure what more he needed to do to stick.
It was a hard lesson for Maxwell to absorb, but it's one he believes will help him handle this spring, where he's competing for a job more seriously than ever, with confidence.
"When I got sent down in April, I was pretty bummed out," Maxwell said. "I didn't go about it the right way. But having that experience and learning from that past, that mentality, I'll never do that again. It's just a learning curve."