Mark DeRosa sat at his locker at the far end of the clubhouse, Friday night having already bled into Saturday morning, slipping on socks and shoes. His Nationals teammates pulled on street clothes and packed up their belongings, hugging each other and wishing goodbye. While most were likely to see each other again in spring training, DeRosa, 37, was not even sure if he would put on a uniform again.
“I’m kind of in a weird state,” DeRosa said after a heartbreaking 9-7 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLDS. “I don’t know if this is the last time I put on a uni. I don’t know if I’m okay with that yet. We’ll see. I’ll go home and listen.”
DeRosa signed a one-year deal with the Nationals in December, a veteran utility player with plenty of playoff experience and a World Series ring. Injuries and established players at all positions kept him off the field, playing in only 48 games. But his role as mentor and clubhouse leader to several players proved vital to several players he brought under his wing. He was perhaps the most well-liked and respected player on the team for his humor, wisdom and personality.
But now, DeRosa would head to his Atlanta home to relax with his family. The 15-year major league veteran hasn’t received any word from the Nationals that they want him back. But if they call, he will listen.
“I had a blast this year,” he said. “The guys were amazing. This is the first time in my career I hit a buck-80 and had fun.”
DeRosa missed 50 games early in the season with an oblique injury and then the passing of his father. When he returned, he played little because of the emergence of rookies Tyler Moore and Steve Lombardozzi, filling in occasionally at third base or right field. He landed again on the disabled list with a groin injury in August and missed 25 games, a move that made room for the acquisition of infielder Cesar Izturis. But DeRosa admitted that he only truly suffered from one injury this season. He wasn’t included on the Nationals playoff roster.
“I want to keep playing,” he said. “I’m in great shape. I feel great. I feel like I can contribute. But the numbers say otherwise since I thrashed my wrist up pretty good. So I’ll see. I didn’t think the phone was going to ring this offseason, and it did. I got a chance to be a part of a great team and a great group of guys.”