Hairston in groove with lumber off bench

Hairston in groove with lumber off bench

WASHINGTON -- Nationals outfielder Scott Hairston is off to a great start. Entering Tuesday's action, Hairston was 8-for-18 (.444) with two RBIs in nine games. His biggest at-bat came Monday, when he drove in the tying run with a sacrifice fly against Reds closer Aroldis Chapman.

Hairston decided to do things differently this year. For example, when he is in the indoor cage, he usually gets pitches that are on the inside part of the plate.

"It helps me keep the bat longer through the zone," Hairston said. "I try to keep it simple. Hit line drives and hit the ball hard on the ground. When I'm in the game, I'm not trying to lift the ball. I'm trying to hit lines drives. My approach has changed."

Hairston is also doing eye exercises, which was recommended by teammate Danny Espinosa.

"There are these card exercises. They exercise eye muscles. There are pictures on the card that are designed for your focus," Hairston said.

A year ago at this time, Hairston was a member of the Cubs. He couldn't buy a hit. It didn't help that he was usually facing the National League Central's best pitchers such as Chapman and Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano.

"Maybe it was the year of the lefty last year. I wasn't on top of my game. That's a bad combination," Hairston said. "You are facing guys who are on top of their game. You are not getting everyday at-bats."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashinNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.