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Wilmer Difo clears waivers, reports to Washington Nationals’ Alternate Site

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Veteran infielder will get more at-bats in Fredericksburg...

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON – On the one hand, infielder Wilmer Difo is a versatile defender who played a small role in helping the Nationals reach the World Series last season.

On the other hand, he has been in the Major Leagues since 2015 and has not been able to become an everyday player – save for 2017-18 when he played at least 124 games in each season due in part to injuries.

Now the native of the Dominican Republic appears to be at another career crossroads at the age of 28.

The switch-hitter was put on waivers by the Nationals on Sept. 5 – the same day the club called infielder Carter Kieboom back from the alternate site.

Difo cleared waivers and now he is part of the 60-player pool in Fredericksburg but as of Wednesday was not on the 40-man roster.

“He got here on Tuesday,” Tommy Shields, the co-field coordinator with Jeff Garber, told Federal Baseball on Wednesday. “The plan is to get him work at short, third, and second. Defensively, he is very good.”

That has never been an issue.

But in 954 career at-bats in the majors, Difo is hitting .247 with an OPS of .657 with just 15 homers.

“I think offensively it is an opportunity for him to get a lot of at-bats and get squared away on the offensive end and find his grove again at the plate,” Shields said.

That comment came about two hours before the Nationals put Howie Kendrick on the 10-day Injured List with hamstring issues. The team did not announce a corresponding move; the Nationals were off Wednesday and begin a series at home Thursday with the Atlanta Braves.

While Difo could be an option with Kendrick out, the Nationals have other veterans at the alternate site who are on the 40-man roster. That includes infielder/outfielder Jake Noll and outfielder Andrew Stevenson, both of whom have Major League experience.

For now, Difo will get at-bats against fellow Washington players at the Single-A home of the Nationals’ Carolina League affiliate.

“I think this is an opportunity to get five, six or seven at-bats a day,” said Shields, a Fairfax native who played in the majors as an infielder for the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago Cubs.

If there is winter ball, would Difo and others at the alternate site be candidates? “I think there is a chance for guys to go to winter ball. I don’t know what that is going to look like,” said Shields, who was not aware of what countries will have a league this winter.