Meet the new guy: Scott Hairston

brushback_harperScott Hairston’s past 30-plus hours have been, in his own words, pretty hectic. Late Sunday night, word trickled out that he had been traded to the Nationals from the Chicago Cubs, where he chose to sign a two-year, $5-million deal in the offseason after playing for the New York Mets. The trade was made official on Monday morning, and Hairston finally arrived by first pitch in Philadelphia and sat in the dugout with his new teammates and in a new uniform.

After Monday’s game, Hairston met with reporters for the first time. His thoughts in his own words, with the questions in bold.

How did your day go? “It was pretty hectic. I was packing all night. The flight was delayed twice coming in so it was pretty nerve-racking but I settled in pretty fast. The guys came up to me and introduced themselves so it’s been good so far.”

How did you react to the trade? “Winning team. I think historically this franchise has been a winner. I played with Gio Gonzalez and Kurt Suzuki on the A’s and Chad Tracy with the Diamondbacks so it’s good to see familiar faces.”

Did you think you would be traded? “I had a feeling. There wasn’t much talk about it but around this time, you always think, especially if you’ve been traded before, it’s always on your mind. But I was hoping if I was going to get traded that I’d come to a contender and that happened so I was very happy last night.”

Did you think you would be traded in the first year of your free agent contract? “I thought it was a possibility, yeah. It’s always a possibility when you think about it. You try not to think about it so much. I think this year, I was initially happy where I ended up with the Cubs but obviously with the way it ended out, I’m a National now. I’m happy about that and I know this is going to be good for me to be in this environment. I haven’t been in a winning environment in quite a while so it feels good.”

Are you comfortable with a bench role? “I’m very comfortable with that. I’ve been used to that the last few years. Coming over here I expected the same thing. Being in the NL Central I didn’t really have the opportunity I was looking for. Especially in the span of a few games you’d see a lot of righties but it’s nice coming over here, into this division, which I’m used to. I was with New York for two years so I’ve seen a lot of the pitching, the left-handers.”

How did you think you performed this season? (.172/.232/.434 with eight homers) “Just okay. Obviously the batting average is not where I want it to be. I think I shoot for a high average more than anything. But as a player you try to never be satisfied. At the same time I just want to do my job coming off the bench and when there’s a lefty on the mound, I want to be a tough out. Overall I haven’t been satisfied with the way I’ve been playing but we still have over a half a season left and there’s still a lot of time.”

Is it comforting to be in a division you’re familiar with? “When you see pitchers that you’ve seen before and the way that they’ve pitched you, it makes things a little easier mentally. Going to a different division sometimes you’re hard on yourself and try to do too much against pitchers you haven’t seen. But I played in these ballparks. I’ve faced these pitchers. They’re tough, but it’s still nice to face pitchers you’re familiar with.”

Did you get a chance to talk with your brother Jerry, a former National? “Oh yeah, he said I was going to love it here. He had great teammates and friends while he was in Washington. I talked to him last night for a while so he had nothing but good things to say about Washington.”

Have you ever played first base? (Manager Davey Johnson suggested Hairston may see some time there in a pinch.) “No. I’d be open to that. I need to get a glove first but yeah. I’d be open to it. As long as I’m on the field that’s all that matters.”

How about grounders? “I have taken groundballs there, just to practice, but I’ve never played in a game at first. Who knows. This game is crazy. It could happen one day.”

FROM THE POST

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FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL

Ross Detwiler expected to return soon after the all-star break

Scott Hairston trade a result of his experience, Nationals’ familiarity with him

Bryce Harper to participate in the Home Run Derby

Thomas Boswell on Scott Hairston trade and its implications

Nationals announce trade with Cubs for Scott Hairston

Nationals have gained some ground and are hoping for more

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Syracuse was off.

Harrisburg 3, Bowie 2: Nathan Karns allowed one run on one hit, walked two and struck out four in 3 1/3 innings. Matt Grace earned the win in relief, Ryan Perry notched a hold and Aaron Barrett earned his 18th save with a scoreless ninth. Justin Bloxom went 1 for 2 with two walks and an RBI.

Winston-Salem 12, Potomac 9: Matt Purke allowed nine runs on 11 hits over 3 2/3 innings. Cole Leonida, Mike Gilmartin, Kevin Keyes and Andrian Sanchez all homered. All but one starter notched a hit and four had two-hit nights.

Hagerstown was off.

Auburn 5, Williamsport 1: Austin Voth allowed one unearned run in four innings. Cody Gunter hit his second home run and Greg Zebrack hit his first. Zebrack finished 3 for 3.

Also on Nationals Journal

Ross Detwiler expected to return soon after the all-star break