McLouth returns to his role as a bench player
By Daniel Popper
WASHINGTON — Nate McLouth found himself in a situation Tuesday night against the Astros that he hasn’t encountered too often this season: as a pinch hitter.
Nationals manager Matt Williams called the outfielder’s number with bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning of a 5-5 tie. And McLouth delivered a sacrifice fly to left field on the first pitch he saw, scoring Ryan Zimmerman for what was eventually the game-winning run.
“He got a ball to hit out over first pitch and he did what he was supposed to do with it,” Williams said. “He went up there with a plan…and got the job done. It’s nice to see. Good for him.”
McLouth signed his two-year, $10.75 million contract with the Nationals before this season understanding his role as a bench player. But when Bryce Harper suffered a torn thumb ligament at the end of April, McLouth was forced into the starting lineup as a left fielder for over a month until Ryan Zimmerman’s return on June 3.
Now, McLouth is back to doing what he expected to entering this season. And while he noted the high pressures, limited opportunities and different in-game preparations that come with pinch-hitting, McLouth said he’s up for the task.
“It’s a tough gig sometimes just for the simple fact that it’s hard to get in a rhythm at the plate when you don’t get consistent at bats,” McLouth said. “But that’s my job.”