Yesterday afternoon, Matt Williams considered the rough spring training of Scott Hairston, a veteran still looking to find his swing.
“We certainly want to get him ready if he’s going to be on our club,” Williams said. “We want to get him as many now. It’s all about at-bats. We’ll be running him out there again.”
Wait. If? Hairston sure seems like a lock. The Nationals traded for him last season with the intention of acquiring a 2014 bench piece. He will make $2.5 million guaranteed. Despite a poor statistical spring and a ragged season last year, Hairston has a track record of coming off the bench and mashing left-handed pitching
So, in an effort to clarify, Williams today was asked what he meant. May Hairston really not make the team?
“He’s certainly competing for a spot like everybody else,” Williams said. “We have to approach it that way. All of us do, including Scott, and including everybody else that is vying for a spot. That would include Anthony [Rendon]. That would include Danny [Espinosa]. We have to approach it that way. There’s no other way to do it. That’s what I meant. It wasn’t to say that I’m thinking about not having him on the team. I want to get him at-bats, that he feels good, that him timing is there and all of that. Saying ‘If he makes the team’ just would be the same as I would say about anybody else.”
Well, Williams kind of took that answer in every conceivable direction – he said nothing by saying a lot. It seems like Williams does not want to tip his hand regarding the status of any player who could be feasibly be perceived on the fringe of the roster, to be publicly fair to the players who actually are on the fringe of the roster.
In other words: He’s not Davey Johnson. But we knew that already.
As for Hairston, the Nationals need him to provide power off the bench from the right side, especially if the Nationals take Jamey Carroll over Tyler Moore. It has not been an encouraging spring. Hairston has 13 strikeouts and one walk in 34 plate appearances, and he’s hitting .212/.257/.364.
“It’s been up and down,” Hairston said. “There’s been days I’ve felt good, there’s been days I haven’t. I’ve done a lot of work. I’ve done a lot of work in the cage. It’s definitely not in vain. I know the more I work, the better off I’ll be. I’m not too worried.
“I’ve had really spring trainings in the past, and the season doesn’t dictate what your spring is like. Sometimes, I’ve had really bad spring trainings and had really good years. That said, I don’t really put too much emphasis on looking too far forward. I just try to concentrate on the now. I’m not really satisfied with my swing currently.”