WASHINGTON -- For the most part, the group of Nationals players left speechless by their heartbreaking Game 5 loss will be back next year. Sure, there will be questions answered this offseason about free-agent signings and trades and contract options, like the mutual one Washington has with Adam LaRoche.
But for Mark DeRosa, the veteran utility man who continued to serve as a mentor and leader despite being left off the playoff roster, there is only a one-sided option. It's between him and the rest of baseball. If the game wants DeRosa back, he'll keep playing. If he's left without an offer, he'll acknowledge that his 15-year Major League career is over.
"If the phone rings, I'll listen. If it doesn't, I'll move on," DeRosa said at his locker at Nationals Park late Friday night. "I'm kind of in a weird state. I don't know if this is the last time I put on a uni, and I don't know if I'm OK with that yet. I don't know if anyone is. We'll see. I'll go home and listen."
DeRosa, highly respected as a positive influence in the clubhouse, hasn't been given any indication that the Nats would like to bring him back, nor has he heard from any other clubs. But he entered last offseason in a similar position, and Washington picked him up, even though DeRosa admitted his ability on the field "pales in comparison to what I'm capable of doing" after a series of wrist injuries first suffered in 2010.
"Do I want to keep playing? Yeah. I'm in great shape and feel great, feel like I can contribute," DeRosa said. "But the numbers say otherwise since I thrashed my wrist up pretty good. We'll see."
DeRosa batted .188 with five doubles and six RBIs in only 101 plate appearances this season, but he admitted it was "the first time in my career I ever hit a buck-eighty and had fun." DeRosa is fully willing to admit that his playing days might not come to an ideal end, but he's not going to call it a career just yet, not unless he feels baseball has told him it's time to go.
"Does any player really know? I know I'm not Chipper Jones or Kerry Wood or one of those types of guys that go out with a rousing send-off," DeRosa said. "I'll let the game dictate whether or not it wants me to keep playing."
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.