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Versatile Frandsen fills valuable role for Nationals

WASHINGTON -- On Sunday, Nationals infielder/outfielder Kevin Frandsen was given a chance to start in left field against the Braves. Manager Matt Williams wanted to give Bryce Harper the day off after a slow start to the season. Frandsen, 31, is used to filling in for big-name players. As a member of the Giants, he filled in for Barry Bonds in left field.

"You are there to give guys breaks," Frandsen said. "Hopefully, there is not a big dropoff. Obviously, my pop is not as big as Bryce's, but that OK. I use to back up Barry Bonds, so I'm used to that."

Frandsen ended up going 1-for-3 during the 2-1 victory over the Braves at Nationals Park. Acquiring Frandsen, who plays multiple positions in the outfield and infield, at the end of Spring Training was done to improve Washington's bench.  

One role Frandsen serves is as the Nationals' emergency catcher. He is known to catch bullpen sessions.

"The way I look at it is, wherever you need me to play … it's about being a team guy." Frandsen said. "You want to do stuff for each other. It's for the team. That's how I take the approach."

Frandsen made 488 plate appearances over 174 games with the Phillies in 2012-13, and he thought he would be with the Phillies for a long time. But he was designated for assignment toward the end of Spring Training, leaving him shocked and angry. He knew Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg wanted him to stay with the team.

"I loved that organization. I thought it was awesome," Frandsen said. "The way Ryno has gone about things over there, it has been awesome. Obviously, playing for him a couple of years in the Minor Leagues and all that stuff, I developed a relationship with him, it was tough. It was a tough pill to swallow, especially when you know you had a lot of success over there. Maybe the numbers don't always tell the story there, but I felt like I came up big over there in many situations, especially the year before, when [Placido] Polanco went down. It is what it is."

It didn't take long for Frandsen to find a job. Not satisfied with what they had on their bench, the Nationals signed Frandsen on March 26, a day after he declared himself a free agent. He wants to win a World Series ring.

Frandsen missed winning a ring with the Giants in 2010. In March of that season, the Red Sox purchased his contract from San Francisco. By October, the Giants beat the Rangers for their first World Series title in San Francisco.

Frandsen, who grew up in the Bay Area, had a feeling that the Giants would go all the way soon.

"Right before I got traded, there was this true vibe in there," Frandsen said. "We finally had some leaders in there who wanted to win, that wanted to make sure the young guys were about [winning]. And sure enough, they did. I was jealous of them winning it. Those are my buddies. It doesn't complete a player, but that's one of the attributes you want to have: How many rings you have?"

Frandsen hopes to get that ring with the Nationals, and he likes the vibe that's going around the Nationals' clubhouse.

"The vibe here is great," Frandsen said. "Each day, the guys know that they are talented and all that stuff. It helps when the guys know and they are comfortable with that."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats.

Washington Nationals, Kevin Frandsen