WASHINGTON -- The Nationals' disabled list remains crowded, but the team got one piece back on Monday, when it activated outfielder Scott Hairston from the 15-day disabled list. Outfielder Steven Souza Jr. was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse to make room on the active roster.
Hairston had been on the DL since April 6 with a left oblique strain. His return could be the first of three this week for Washington, which also expects to get pitcher Doug Fister and catcher Wilson Ramos back in the fold. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and outfielder Bryce Harper remain a ways away.
"I think we've been staying afloat, especially with all the injuries we have currently," Hairston said. "That's the sign of a good team. The depth of the organization, guys who are coming up and making contributions, it's been really helpful. I think once we piece things together, once we get everybody healthy, we'll be the team that we're expected to be."
Hairston played in only two games before the injury and went 1-for-2. He spent a three-game rehab assignment at Syracuse, going 1-for-10 with a double, two walks and four strikeouts.
"I played nine innings a couple of games and felt good," he said. "Just working out the timing as a hitter, that's always the biggest challenge."
With Harper out, Hairston could see some starts in left field against left-handed pitchers. That could be as early as Tuesday, when Washington faces Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.
Nats manager Matt Williams has been using Tyler Moore and Kevin Frandsen as right-handed bats in left field, but Frandsen has played mostly infield in his career, and Moore could be needed at first base, with Adam LaRoche nursing a sore quad.
"It's a veteran right-hander off the bench," Williams said of Hairston. "It's power. He certainly matches up well against left-handed pitching."
In more than 1,000 career plate appearances against lefties, Hairston has posted a slash line of .269/.317/.498, with 49 home runs.
This was Souza's second short stint with the Nationals this season. The 25-year-old rookie got his first and only big league start last Wednesday in Houston but otherwise has come off the bench, going 1-for-8 with a walk.