McLouth looking toward a better 2015

By Andrew Simon

WASHINGTON – It’s fair to say Nate McLouth’s first season with the Nationals didn’t go as planned, with the veteran outfielder struggling at the plate, then missing the final two months with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Now entering the final half of a two-year, $10.75 million deal — which includes a 2016 team option — McLouth is almost four months removed from surgery and is feeling stronger as he rehabs five days a week. He expects to be back at 100 percent by Spring Training.

“It’s doing better,” he said Saturday at NatsFest. “I’ve been rehabbing pretty much every day. It’s pretty monotonous, obviously, but it’s feeling much better. I saw the doctor yesterday here, and he said everything went good.”

The 33-year-old doesn’t believe any one incident caused his injury, calling it a “wear-and-tear type of thing.” However, it did get worse as the season went along, eventually forcing him to the disabled list. While he isn’t certain how much the issue affected him on the field, he acknowledged it was a factor.

In fact, McLouth never really got going, especially with the bat. After hitting a solid .258/.329/.399 with 12 home runs in ’13 for the Orioles, he got off to a 4-for-51 start for the Nats and wound up with a .173/.280/.237 line and one homer over 162 plate appearances.

While Washington expected the left-hander to receive significant playing time as a fourth outfielder, it didn’t always work out that way. And with all three starting outfielders coming back for ’15 – and youngsters like Steven Souza and Michael Taylor also expected to contend for spots – it could continue to be difficult for McLouth to establish himself with the Nats.

“Hopefully [I’ll get] some sort of consistent scheduled playing time,” he said. “I think there was a month [last season] where I had 10 at-bats, which is tough for anybody. It’s tough to do anything with that. Hopefully I’ll be able to get in there a little more.”

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