In 2013 in Baltimore, Nate McLouth put up a .258/.329/.399 line with 31 doubles, 12 home runs and 30 steals in 593 plate appearances in a +2.6 fWAR campaign for the Orioles. McLouth, then 32, now 33, signed a two-year/$10.75M deal with the O's regional rivals from D.C., with the Washington Nationals telling the veteran outfielder that there were at bats available.
"'As we do, we mapped out the opportunity for (McLouth)'" Rizzo told reporters including MASN's Dan Kolko. "No uncertain terms, black and white, here's what we've had in the past and here's what we see as your role in the future - and he liked the fit here.'"
"[He] will get somewhere between 300-400 at bats, which is great," Nats' manager Matt Williams explained in an MLB Network Radio interview last Spring.
"And he can do a lot of things. He can steal bases. He's fantastic in all three outfield positions. He throws. He's got the ability to hit for power, so off the bench late in the game he can provide you that. He's kind of that hybrid guy."
McLouth ended up getting just 139 at bats over 79 games before his season was ended by a torn labrum in his right shoulder, but before he was shut down, the plate appearances were hard to come by.
"I think there was a month there when I had 10 at-bats in a month," McLouth told reporters this winter. "That’s tough for anybody. It’s tough to do anything with that, so hopefully I can get in there a little more and make the most of my opportunities."
The labrum tear, he explained, didn't happen on any particular play, but was a cumulative injury.
"Just wear and tear type of thing," McLouth said. "It wasn’t one thing I did where I really felt it. Just felt it progressively getting worse and it got to the point where it needed to be fixed."
The 10-year veteran said in December that he thought he would be ready for Spring Training and the second year of his two-year deal.
"That will be here soon," he said when asked if he was close to 100%, "definitely before Spring Training."
McLouth is in camp, preparing for the 2015 campaign, but Williams said this week that they were still taking their time and making sure he was fully-recovered.
"If we were to say at the end of this week that we were going to play a game and Nate was going to go two innings, we probably wouldn't do that at this point because he's got to go through that progression," the manager explained.
"So what that time frame is depends on how he feels. You can look at the big picture and say, 'You need x-amount of rehab for this particular surgery.' Everybody is different, of course, but we want to make sure, again, that when he's ready to play, he's ready, because we don't want a setback. So, that being said, he's going through the progression of all his throwing, he's hitting right now, he doesn't have an issue with that.
"It's going to get sore, we know it, so there are going to be days where he's going to have to just shut it down for that particular day, which is frustrating because you want to play, but we'll get through Spring Training with him and kind of monitor him on an everyday basis to see where he's at and act accordingly."
Will McLouth get the 300-400 at bats in 2015 that the Nationals saw him getting when he signed last winter?
Asked in December what role he thought he would play this season, McLouth admitted he wasn't sure.
"That’s the question," he said. "I don’t know. I guess it’s something that will kind of take care of itself in Spring Training."