Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore noted back on April 18th, before the Washington Nationals took on the St. Louis Cardinals, that infielder Zach Walters was taking fly balls and ground balls in the outfield that afternoon.
Walters, "dismissed the practice as nothing significant," the WaPost reporter wrote, and the 24-year-old SS/3B joked that he was just staying out of the infield to keep it clean for shortstop Ian Desmond.
Bench coach Randy Knorr too downplayed the practice. "He was just messing around today,'" Knorr said. "'But if we need him, we’ll put him out there. He could do it.'"
Walters played right field once in 425 games over five minor league seasons, but he has never played the outfield in the majors. In his first start of the season tonight in Oakland, Walters is penciled in as the starting left fielder as the Nationals take on the A's in the second game of three in O.co Coliseum:
With Adam LaRoche (quad) DHing at the start of last night's game before he was replaced by Walters, and Kevin Frandsen filling in at first in LaRoche's stead, Scott Hairston made the start in left field.
Hairston committed his second error of the week on playable fly balls late in the game. With right-hander Sonny Gray on the mound tonight, Williams has apparently decided to give the switch-hitting Walters a start. More info on the decision if Williams shares his thinking when he meets with reporters later tonight.
With Bryce Harper out of the lineup, the Nationals have used five different players in left field this season with Tyler Moore, Steven Souza, Jr., Hairston, Nate McLouth and Frandsen all seeing time in the outfield.
Williams told reporters, including MASNSports.com's Josh Land, on Friday night that he expected McLouth, who injured his left hand on a spectacular sliding play in left field in last Monday night's win over the LA Dodgers, to return to the lineup tonight.
"With the lefty pitcher [Tommy Milone] and the matchup of [Kevin Frandsen], [McLouth is] not going to play today,'" Williams said. "'But he will for sure be in there tomorrow.'"
McLouth is in right field tonight with Jayson Werth serving as the DH, so Walters gets the start in left...