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Motivated McLouth taking it slow after shoulder surgery

VIERA, FL. -- The Nationals plan on allowing outfielder Nate McLouth to progress slowly this spring as he recovers from right shoulder surgery.

McLouth says he feels near 100 percent, but to get over the hump, he will have to see how the shoulder reacts as he increases the pressure on it.

"It's just a matter of building up the reps," McLouth said. "The volume increase when you get to Spring Training is much more than you do in the offseason, but as far as the way it feels, no pain whatsoever."

To help get a jump start on that process, McLouth is one of the early position players here, taking extra swings and throwing before position players are expected to report Tuesday.

He also is a bit eager to finally get back on the field. A torn right labrum ended the outfielder's season in August, forcing him to miss the postseason.

"Not being able to participate, that's not fun," he said. "So that kind of keeps you -- not that you need extra motivation to get healthy -- but watching that it makes you want to get back even more."

McLouth struggled even when he was healthy last season. In 79 games, he compiled a slash line of .173/.280/.237 with one home run. The Nationals expect Jayson Werth to be ready for Opening Day, despite his own right shoulder surgery, but McLouth would be the likely next option in left field.

Jamal Collier is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.
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