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McLouth prepares for however Nats need him

WASHINGTON -- When outfielder Nate McLouth signed with the Nationals this past winter, he knew he was doing so to serve as a fourth outfielder on a club with three clear starters at those positions. So it doesn't come as a surprise to the veteran that he has yet to see the starting lineup through the season's first five games.

"I knew what I was getting into," said McLouth, who started 125 games for the Orioles last season. "To be honest with you, I haven't thought much about it. I've just come to the yard and prepared and watched video and things like that, like I normally would, just to get myself ready."

McLouth's first chance likely won't come on Sunday, when the Nats face their first left-handed starter, the Braves' Alex Wood. Instead, manager Matt Williams alluded to a possible start for the club's right-handed backup outfielder, Scott Hairston.

But on Tuesday, Washington begins a stretch of 20 straight days with a scheduled game, which could present McLouth with some opportunities to get in the lineup.

"Of course, we want to get guys at-bats and want to make sure they're good to play when they come off the bench, and what helps that is them getting in a game and getting four at-bats," Williams said. "So that's part of our plan, but again, we have to look at it day to day."

For McLouth, his past experience as a part-time player has helped him with his approach, even when those steady at-bats don't come.

"You've got one chance a game, and you can't put pressure on yourself to get a hit," said McLouth, who entered Saturday 0-for-2 with a walk. "You just have to go about the same process you normally would, and over the long haul, things will be there if you just commit to the process and don't change things just because you've only got one at-bat."

Andrew Simon is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.
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