Nats’ DeRosa ready to have injury-free season

Nationals infielder/outfielder Mark DeRosa arrived in Spring Training on Wednesday morning, determined to make a comeback after missing most of the last two years because of a left wrist injury.

Manager Davey Johnson was one person who wanted DeRosa to make his comeback in Washington. In fact, Johnson acknowledged that he called DeRosa during the offseason after it was learned that first baseman Chris Marrero would not start the 2012 season on time, after tearing his left hamstring while playing winter ball. Johnson managed DeRosa during the World Baseball Classic in 2009.

Reuniting with Johnson wasn’t the only reason DeRosa joined the Nationals.

“I really enjoyed my time with him,” DeRosa said about Johnson. “To be honest with you, [playing in Washington] is close to home. It was big. I was out in [San Francisco] the last two years with the family on the east coast. I wanted to get close to home as I could – give myself the best chance to win, be on a young exciting team. It seemed like a good fit.”

It will be interesting to see what kind of role DeRosa plays for Washington. He is expected to be a reserve first baseman and make occasional starts in the outfield, and also at second and third base. With Mike Cameron retiring earlier this week, DeRosa could find himself in a platoon situation in the outfield.

“I’m pretty comfortable playing wherever,” DeRosa said. “I always go back to the coach I had with the Braves, Glenn Hubbard. He said, ‘When in doubt, be an athlete.’ And that’s what I’ve always tried to do. I’m not going to fly by Carlos Beltran in the outfield and do the things that certain guys do out there. I can catch it and I can hit the cutoff man.”

The last time DeRosa played often in a season was in 2009 when he played for the Cardinals and Indians.

During that same year that DeRosa hurt the left wrist. After two surgeries, he continued to have problems with the wrist until he returned to action last September with the Giants.

“… After going through all I went through, it seemed to have settled down,” DeRosa said. “I guess the scar tissue in there seemed to have calmed down and allowed me to do my job without pain. That was the toughest thing. You can make up for lack of stability or lack of mobility or whatever you have to deal with. But it was just that knifing pain every time you went to swing, it kind of shut me down.”

DeRosa said the wrist feels great, but admits the big test will come once the season starts.

“It remains to be seen. The offseason is not the season,” DeRosa said. “It’s not grinding every day, it’s not hitting seven times a week. So I need these six weeks to get ready.”

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