Each time outfielder Corey Brown was called up for brief stints from the minor leagues this season, the Nationals were on the road, so he had a temporary locker in the visiting clubhouse just like everyone else.
After being called up Tuesday thanks to expanded rosters, Brown finally got his own locker, a place to stash all of stuff and feel like everyone else.
“I’m very excited and been looking forward to my first home game this year,” he said before Tuesday’s game against the Chicago Cubs. “So I think it’ll be fun to go out there and see all the fans.”
Before he played in the season finale for the Class AAA Syracuse Chiefs on Monday, Manager Tony Beasley told Brown, 26, that he would be added to the Nationals following the game. Brown then smashed his 25th home run of the season in the 6-4 loss to Rochester and was off to Washington.
Brown was called up last season and went hitless in three at-bats. He struggled through injury and the pressure of being part of a trade, he said. This season, with an improved swing, he flourished as a power hitter who can play center field.
“This year I definitely feel like I deserve it a lot more than last year,” he said.
Brown went hitless in his first eight at-bats this season before notching his first major-league hit, a home run in Milwaukee. He said that has helped alleviate the pressure, and he is better equipped to handle whatever role is thrown at him now. In all, he played in nine games for the Nationals this season.
Brown, more than anything, is a backup outfielder for now, insurance for any injury to the regular starters. He is behind Roger Bernadina in the pecking order of outfielders off the bench, Nationals Manager Davey Johnson said. But Johnson said he would try to get Brown at-bats “here and there” and use him as a defensive replacement.
On Tuesday, the Nationals activated right-handed pitcher Chien-Ming Wang from the disabled list. He had been struggling with a hip injury that kept him in the minor leagues, and it gave him a chance to improve his mechanics that suffered as a consequence of the injury. While he hasn’t performed as well as the Nationals had hoped this season, he also is an insurance policy against injuries to other starters or relievers.
Wang struggled with the Nationals, with a 7.61 ERA over four starts and three relief appearances. He made 15 minor league starts rehabbing multiple injuries this season, recording a 5.51 ERA.