Nate Schierholtz was drafted by the Giants in the second round in 2003. He debuted with San Francisco in 2007, then played more than 500 games in black and orange before joining the Phillies midway through the 2012 season.
So while it may not matter that the Giants happen to be at Nationals Park on the day the Nationals called up Schierholtz, it’s fitting: The 30-year-old will begin to attempt to revise the disappointing 2014 chapter of his career against the team that gave him his first shot in the major leagues.
Schierholtz, who arrived in Washington in time for Saturday’s game, was 3 for 19 in Class AAA Syracuse since being signed to a minor league contact by the Nationals on Monday, a week after he’d cleared waivers from the Cubs. Chicago released the veteran after he hit .192 over 99 games. That came after the best season of his career in 2013, in which he played in 137 games and accumulated 116 hits for the Cubs.
“There were probably a lot of reasons” for the struggles, Schierholtz said. “For me, I’m just excited for a fresh start. To put the first half behind me and start in a winning environment.”
Nate McLouth’s absence because of season-ending shoulder surgery left Matt Williams without a true left-handed bat off the bench. That cleared the way for the newest Nate, a .289 career pinch hitter in more than 100 at-bats, who will fill that challenging threat-off-the-bench role for Williams.
“We’re so right-handed-dominant off the bench, he gives us an opportunity to have a lefty later in the game, if that opportunity presents itself,” Williams said. “He’s got certainly the ability to play all three outfield positions, experience, had a great year last year. He can run, he can throw, he’s got power. So all those things add up to bringing him here as quickly as we can.”
Despite having an unexpected mid-season break — and just 20 at-bats to snap out of any stupor it might have inspired — Schierholtz said he’s comfortable both with his new clubhouse and his new role.
Clubhouse-wise, Schierholtz finds himself a few lockers away from Kevin Frandsen, who was drafted by the Giants in 2004 draft and grew up in the minors with his new teammate and close friend.
“We were in each other’s weddings,” Schierholtz said. “So we go way back.”
Schierholtz credited lessons learned from Giants veterans over his time there with helping him learn to be comfortable pinch-hitting, one of the game’s more uncomfortable roles.
“That was kind of my role early on in my career, for most of my career in San Francisco, and I had a lot of veteran hitters on those teams to learn from,” Schierholtz said. “I picked their brains, and learned that when that’s your job, it’s kind of like going to war with the pitcher. You only get one shot.”