The Washington Times - August 8, 2011, 01:31PM

CHICAGO — Jonny Gomes hit a home run Sunday afternoon.

That fact alone is not all that remarkable. Gomes had done it 11 times before this season and plenty of other times in his career — including twice in one game off the same pitcher he took deep yesterday. But it was his first in a Nationals uniform and that is significant.

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It’s tough to think of these things in a vacuum — but — technically Gomes replaced Matt Stairs on the Nationals roster. Whether it was literally or figuratively, ultimately that was the swap. Sure, Roger Bernadina could also be considered in that mix of “players Gomes replaced.” But, on the roster, when the Nationals traded for Gomes, they cut ties with Stairs. 

In nine games, Gomes has hit .286 with a triple, a homer, two RBI and three walks. In 56 games, Stairs hit .154 with one double, two RBI and nine walks.

It’s unfair to compare them side by side, really. Gomes is used in something of a platoon with Laynce Nix in left field. He plays almost the entire game — even though he may not play every day — and he’s 13 years younger than Stairs. His production was never meant to be compared to that of Stairs. But it’s a fact of their being linked in transactions that they are.

When the Nationals acquired Gomes, there were plenty of people asking what the reasoning behind it was. They were upgrading their bench — a move much more suited for teams closer to contention — and yet they still made the move. The truth is the answer isn’t one simple thing, as these things never are. Gomes, while giving them the right-handed bat they’d been lacking all season, also is projected as a Type-B free agent after this season. If the Nationals offer Gomes arbitration after the season, and he declines, they will get a compensation pick from whichever team he signs with for the 2012 draft.

He also helps them now. Helps them stay in contention for — and possibly reach — their first winning season in Nationals history. It’s only been two weeks, but Gomes is also drawing rave reviews from a clubhouse that thoroughly enjoyed having Stairs around.

“I really like him a lot,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “He’s got a great attitude, great teammate. I like what I’m seeing.” 

“He’s been a great addition,” Werth said. “He’s an interesting (guy). He’s been through a lot. He’s played the game a long time. He knows how to play. He adds a uniqueness to the balcllub. He’s great in the clubhouse and he’s great on the field.”