Veteran utility man Mark DeRosa could possibly be returning from a stint on the disabled list as early as tomorrow’s series finale in Baltimore, per a report by Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider. DeRosa has been sidelined due to a strained left oblique that has kept him out of the lineup since late April.
According to Zuckerman, DeRosa was scheduled to start in left field tonight for Class-A Potomac and play a full nine innings for the first time since he first hit the DL. Should everything go as planned he could potentially be activated before tomorrow’s 1:35 PM start time. It sounds as though he’ll return to the Nationals bench early this week, at the latest.
Washington signed DeRosa for $800,000 over the winter on a minor league deal and brought him to Spring Training in the hopes that he could offer a veteran bat off the bench who was capable of handling multiple positions on the field. Historically that’s the type of player DeRosa has always been – looking past his last two injury plagued seasons for a moment, that is. Over a 15 year career DeRosa is a .270/.340/.412 hitter who’s seen time at every position on the field except on the mound and behind the plate. For a young Nationals team, DeRosa was supposed to provide the veteran leadership to the hitters that Brad Lidge was supposed to bring to the bullpen*.
* To be fair, by all accounts Lidge was indeed a great influence and leader in the bullpen. He just couldn’t find the plate from the mound when it counted.
DeRosa struggled through his first 44 plate appearances this season before landing on the DL, batting a mere .081/.227/.081 with just 2 RBI. He’s hitless in six minor league at bats, coming into tonight’s game – once again, talk about a minimalistic time frame for a rehab assignment.
One unanswered question is what the corresponding roster move may be when DeRosa is activated. Zuckerman points out that Tyler Moore could be the first option, partly because Xavier Nady and Roger Bernadina would need to pass through waivers before they could be optioned to Triple-A. Given how well he’s been swinging the bat lately, Moore’s spot may prove to be safe unless the team feels he isn’t getting regular enough at bats.
From my perspective, Bernadina’s the safer option to hold onto at this point in time. He’s younger, more athletic, can handle all three outfield positions if needed, and still might have some potential to develop and there’s a chance another team might take a chance on claiming him. Nady, meanwhile, might just not have anything left in the tank. He’s can backup at first base, which Bernadina can’t do, but the Nationals have other options at this point that could fill a temporary void if needed, nullifying that point to a degree. If the argument is to keep him around for the ‘veteran presence’ then aren’t we just replacing one with another if DeRosa takes his spot?
DeRosa’s return could prove to be timely, given the recent struggles of Ryan Zimmerman at the plate. Steve Lombardozzi is currently the only other player who could handle playing third base, to give Zimmerman a day off, but he’s being used so frequently across the diamond it is actually limiting Davey Johnson’s decision making abilities. DeRosa is capable of playing third base, so his versatility may prove to be more valuable than what Nady has left to offer.