Published July 27, 2011
WASHINGTON – The Nationals added outfielder Jonny Gomes to their roster on Wednesday, one day after acquiring him in a trade with Cincinnati.
To make room for Gomes, Washington designated 43-year-old Matt Stairs for assignment.
Stairs, who holds the major league record with 23 pinch-hit home runs, was a disappointment for the Nationals. In 56 games, Stairs batted just .154 with two RBIs and didn't hit a homer. Stairs was 6 for 39 as a pinch hitter.
Manager Davey Johnson said that the team couldn't find regular playing time in either the outfield or at first base for Stairs.
"He never really got sharp," Johnson said. "He didn't have the production he wanted or that the organization wanted."
When Johnson took over as manager, he made no secret that he wanted a power hitter on the bench — "a guy sitting over next to me with a big, hairy chest."
He was disappointed that Stairs wasn't that player.
"I loved having that left-handed bat off the bench. He was my guy," Johnson said.
Gomes wasn't in the lineup for the game against Florida. Johnson said he wanted to give Gomes a day to get acclimated, but said he would play on Thursday.
The 30-year-old Gomes had played the past 2½ seasons with the Reds after starting his career with Tampa Bay. The Rays released him after the 2008 season.
"It's my first time getting traded, so I don't know how to take it. A team giving up on you — or a team grabbing you and wanting your services?" Gomes said.
Comfortable in both left field and right, Gomes wasn't ready to talk about his role several hours before gametime.
"We just figured out what my number would be. We still got to iron some things out," Gomes said.
Johnson said that the right-handed hitting Gomes would help his team's balance. Laynce Nix and Rick Ankiel, who were both in Wednesday's starting lineup, are left-handed. Nix was scheduled to start in right instead of Jayson Werth, who's batting just .215 and is just 3 for 24 against Marlins starter Javier Vazquez.
Right-handed pitcher Chien-Ming Wang also returned from his rehab assignment. He is still on the disabled list and is scheduled to pitch Friday against the Mets. He hasn't pitched in a major league game since July 4, 2009.