The Washington Times - April 2, 2012, 09:56PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Six weeks ago, when the Washington Nationals descended on Viera, Fla. for spring training the composition of their projected 25-man roster looked very different. Injuries, inconsistencies and unexpected arrivals can make a big difference over the course of camp.

But of all the Nationals’ final roster decisions, it’s safe to say pencilling in Xavier Nady’s name as a bench outfielder/first baseman is not one that was on any projections in mid-February.

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Unemployed two-and-a-half weeks ago, working his way into shape in minor league camp six days ago, Nady was packing up inside the visitors clubhouse at jetBlue Park Monday afternoon and preparing for a flight to D.C. as a member of the Nationals’ major league roster.

“The last two weeks have been chaos for me,” Nady said, his eyes widening when asked if he’s given any thought or reflection to exactly what he’s accomplished since March 18. From his couch to a big league bench in 16 days.

“(Nationals GM Mike Rizzo) congratulated me before the game,” Nady said. “But I didn’t even know what was going to happen. (I was) trying to find my way around (minor league camp), early work down there, late work down there, taking at-bats, bouncing around on fields. Hopefully it makes me a better player. Obviously, I’m excited to be here and excited to have the opportunity to help out.”

Nady had some interest in the Nationals as a destination for this year earlier in the offseason. He liked the mix of players the team had put together and thought he might be a fit. Then the Nationals signed Mike Cameron in mid-December and Nady figured that was that. But he was home in California “A lot longer than I anticipated.” And with Cameron retiring just before camp began, he saw the window open again.

“When (Rizzo) and (my agent Scott Boras) spoke, and (Rizzo) said it was just going to go to minor league camp, the intention, I don’t think, was to do this,” Nady said. “But I felt like I did a good job busting my butt to stay in shape so that when I did come in, I was ready.”

“It’s obviously an honor every time you throw on the uniform to be a part of an opening day,” Nady added. “It’s been a crazy couple weeks. I’m thankful for the opportunity.”