The Nationals signed Nate Schierholtz to a minor-league deal on Monday, thinking the veteran outfielder wouldn’t need much time in Syracuse before joining the big-league roster.
Turns out he only needed four days at Class AAA.
Schierholtz had his contract purchased Saturday by the Nationals, who felt the time was right to add an experienced, left-handed bat to their bench. He replaces rookie outfielder Michael Taylor, who was optioned back to Syracuse after a 2-week debut in the majors.
“He’s got some ABs under his belt,” manager Matt Williams said. “We’ve been so right-handed dominant off the bench, it gives us an opportunity to have a lefty later in the game. 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. All of those things add up to bringing him here as quickly as we can. He’s ready to go.”
Schierholtz, 30, played the last four days for Syracuse, going 3-for-19 with a homer and four RBI (all three hits came on Wednesday) while striking out six times. Results, though, were less important to him than the mere fact he was able to get significant playing time for four days after sitting out two weeks following his release by the Cubs.
“Obviously I had a couple weeks back home, which isn’t ideal to any player,” he said. “But I feel like at this point of the season, you get back into the swing of things pretty quick. … I got enough time there, I feel like, to be ready.”
On the heels of a 21-homer season for Chicago, Schierholtz found himself out of work after hitting just .192 in 99 games with the Cubs this year. He preferred not to delve much into his struggles but expressed confidence his new surroundings could get him back on track.
“There’s probably a lot of reasons, but for me, I’m just excited for a fresh start here,” he said. “I’ve kind of put the first half behind me and I’m ready to start in a winning environment. I feel like it’s a positive place here already, first day. I’m looking forward to it.”
Schierholtz’s arrival prompted the Nationals to option Taylor back to Class AAA, where he spent only four days himself before a surprise big-league debut two weeks ago after a spate of injuries to Nats outfielders. The 23-year-old, one of the organization’s top prospects, went 2-for-4 with a homer in his debut game Aug. 12 but was 1-for-14 since then.
Taylor will return to Syracuse for now, with a likely promotion back to Washington once rosters expand Sept. 1.
“Michael will go back and play a little bit,” Williams said. “We’ll see how that goes in September.”
To clear space for Schierholtz on the 40-man roster, the Nationals transferred Nate McLouth to the 60-day DL. The veteran outfielder had season-ending surgery for aright shoulder tear this week.