DeJesus said he was nervous when he came to the plate as a visitor in the ballpark he's called home since the start of the 2012 season. He received a standing ovation from the Wrigley Field crowd.
"It's one of those surreal experiences, because just yesterday I was playing for the Cubs and I was taking at-bats and everything," DeJesus said. "And it was honoring, the reaction by the fans. They respected the way I went out there and approached my job every day. And I kind of had the little shakes in my hands. It was a little crazy. I stepped out and kind of took a deep breath and [got] back in there. It was a pretty cool experience."
"[DeJesus] gives us a few things that I thought that we needed going forward," said Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo prior to the game. "He improves our left-handed [hitting] side of the bench immediately. He's also a guy that's capable of being an everyday player and he can step in there for extended periods of time if there are injuries and that type of thing. So I think he helps us in a variety of ways."
Rizzo said that the Nats have had their eye on DeJesus for some time now.
"He was one of the guys that we identified when we talked about improving our bench with a guy that we could control beyond this year. He was one of the guys we were discussing and thinking about, and it just didn't happen up to the Trade Deadline, but after the Trade Deadline, we put a waiver claim in for him, we got the claim, and we worked out a deal."
Placing DeJesus on waivers, first reported by FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, may indicate that the reason for claiming the outfielder was to block another team from acquiring him. By completing the trade with the Cubs, Washington inherited $1 million of his remaining salary for 2013 plus a $6.5 million club option for 2014 or a $1.5 million buyout.
The Nationals should find out Wednesday if DeJesus has cleared waivers.
"I'm excited to be a Washington National," DeJesus said before the team's series opener with his former club on Monday. "Whatever role I have on the team, I'm going to give it my all and try to be a guy out there as a leader and a guy [that] young guys can learn from."
With the acquisition of DeJesus, the Nationals released struggling outfielder Roger Bernadina, who hit .178 (27-for-152) in 85 games.
DeJesus, who was an everyday center fielder for the Cubs, said he is comfortable with his new role as a reserve outfielder for the Nats.
"I'm comfortable [with the new role], because that's my game," he said. "My game is grinding out at-bats, making the pitcher pitch, and giving it my best. That's all I can really do. I can't ask for more. I'm going to work both sides of the plate, try to get on base, and let the guys behind me do their job."
Manager Davey Johnson is happy to have DeJesus on board.
"He's a good player," Johnson said. "He's a great addition, he's a quality player. [If] anybody gets hurt, he can step right in and play at a high level."