DeRosa on his way to returning to Nationals

DeRosa on his way to returning to Nationals

BALTIMORE -- Mark DeRosa continues to inch closer to a return that would give the Nationals even more veteran experience off the bench.

DeRosa played 13 games this season before a strained left oblique sent him to the disabled list on April 29. He also took some time away from the team to be with his father, Jack, who passed away following a prolonged battle with cancer. DeRosa rejoined the Nats on Tuesday, and manager Davey Johnson said the veteran utility man should need only two or three more rehab games with Class A Potomac.

"He played five innings yesterday, struck out and hit a ball pretty good to right field," Johnson said. "He just needs to get back in the flow of things.

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"With his experience and his know-how, I don't see it taking him more than two or three more games."

DeRosa had a slow start to the season before the injury, recording just three hits and two RBIs in 37 at-bats. The Nationals suddenly have a crowded outfield depth chart, as Xavier Nady, Rick Ankiel and Roger Bernadina all see fairly regular time off the bench behind usual starters Steve Lombardozzi, Bryce Harper and Michael Morse.