Andrew Stevenson went just 9 for 57 (.158/.250/.193) with two doubles in 37 games and 66 plate appearances after making his MLB debut last season, but Washington’s 23-year-old, 2015 2nd Round pick told reporters this winter that the experience was an important one in his development.
“To break through, that’s kind of the biggest thing,” Stevenson explained. “Now you get that experience and you run with it now.
“Now you get another shot, nothing is really going to be new, so I think that’s going to be the biggest thing going into this year, kind of know what to expect.
“I know it’s going to be a new coaching staff, and it might be run a little different, but I’m looking forward to this year and seeing what it has to bring.”
Though he didn’t make the Opening Day roster, Stevenson was called up on the 17th of April when Brian Goodwin was placed on the Disabled, joining Adam Eaton.
The early-season DL stints provided another opportunity for Stevenson, but he didn’t get a whole lot of at bats over the first week, going just 1 for 5 in pinch hit appearances and late-game opportunities when he came on as a defensive replacement.
On Wednesday afternoon, however, Stevenson started for the first time in 2018 and went 4 for 5 with two doubles, two singles, a walk, and four RBIs in the Nationals’ 15-2 win over the San Francisco Giants.
“Been here for a few days now and just trying to take advantage of every opportunity I’m given right now and it’s just great being out here, great stadium, it was a fun game to be a part of,” Stevenson told MASN’s Dan Kolko after the game.
A flyout to left in his final at bat was all that kept him from a perfect 5 for 5 day at the plate.
Was he thinking about a fifth hit when he stepped in for his last plate appearance?
“Oh yeah,” Stevenson said. “I’m thinking five, but it didn’t happen.”
His manager was impressed by Stevenson’s big day at the plate.
“He worked diligently on his swing in Spring Training,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said after the Nationals’ win.
“And he hit the ball well in Spring Training, and he’s still doing it, so I tip my hat to him.
“He works. He worked all Spring on it and he’s doing well. He’s a good kid. Loves to play the game. And I’m proud of him.”
Stevenson’s work actually began before Spring Training, when the Nationals’ new hitting coach, Kevin Long, visited him at his home in Louisiana to offer suggestions and start to make some changes to a swing which has often been described in scouting reports as an “unorthodox” one.
“It’s definitely an honor,” Stevenson said of the personal attention he received, as quoted by Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes this past March.
“To kind of have them want to get me to the next level, I’m very appreciative they wanted to do that for me.”
The latest opportunity for Stevenson is the result of a number of injuries to the outfielders who started with the Nationals on Opening Day, but he made the most of the chance.
“It’s something you think you can do every time you step in the lineup,” Stevenson said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“That’s something I have the confidence in myself. I know I can compete with these guys.
“Just to go out there and do it, it’s kind of cool when you look back at it. I’m just thankful for the opportunity.”