The Nationals improved their bench this offseason by signing free-agent outfielder Nate McLouth to a two-year, $10.75 million deal. McLouth provides power and defense, and the plan is for him to spell Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Jayson Werth whenever they need a day off.
MLB.com caught up with McLouth recently to talk about the Nationals and how he was able to resurrect his career with the Orioles.
MLB.com: What attracted you to the Nationals?
McLouth: The No. 1 thing was the strength of the team. I feel there is an opportunity to go to the postseason. We have a good chance to go deep in the postseason.
MLB.com: Is there anyone in the organization who convinced you to come to Washington?
McLouth: Nobody had to convince me. I did talk to Adam LaRoche, because I played with him in Pittsburgh. I spoke with him, but I didn't need convincing.
MLB.com: I think of you as an everyday player. Do you have any concerns about your playing time being reduced this season?
McLouth: No, I don't. It probably will be [reduced], but I'm going to be ready when I'm in there. Maybe I won't start a game, but maybe I will come in later during a double switch or something like that. When that happens, I'll be ready.
MLB.com: You are not only here for your power. You are an excellent defensive outfielder. How much pride do you take in your defense?
McLouth: That's very important, too. It's something I work hard at, being able to fill in at all three outfield positions. If ever there is an opportunity to give somebody a day off -- whether it's left [field], center or right -- I'll be able to fill in. The ability to play all three positions has helped me out.
MLB.com: A lot of people thought your playing career was over because of your stint with the Braves and second tenure with the Pirates. How much do you credit the Orioles for reviving your career?
McLouth: A lot. They really gave me an opportunity, and I earned it, too. I was able to work my way back, and I started having fun again. They gave me that opportunity, and I'm extremely grateful for it.
MLB.com: What did you do that convinced them that you should be in the lineup?
McLouth: It was a relaxation type of thing. They said, "Don't put any more pressure on yourself." I don't know. It's kind of hard to explain. Things started clinking, and it was a good situation for me.
MLB.com: What was it like working for Baltimore manager Buck Showalter?
McLouth: It was good. He is a great manager to play for. He really believes in his players. He is a good presence in the dugout during the game. I've never seen him get too upset about anything. He has a real even keel about him. It has a real calming effect on players.
MLB.com: How weird will it be playing against the Orioles this year?
McLouth: It's always different playing a former team. It's a little strange ... [but] it's pretty normal once the game starts.
MLB.com: How did you avoid letting the setbacks get the best of you?
McLouth: Baseball is a tough game. I think you can draw a lot of parallels between baseball and life in general. Things aren't always smooth sailing. I think baseball -- and, most specifically, the rough times I've had -- have given me a good perspective. It just helps me to appreciate things more, not only on the field but off the field as well. It was a good learning experience for me.
MLB.com: Who in your family helped you get over the bad times?
McLouth: They all did. They were always supportive of me. Whether I have success on the field or not, they are always going to be my family. They are going to look at me the exact same way. That's nice to have a good support system like that."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.