Nationals sign Nady to minor league deal

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VIERA, Fla. — The Washington Nationals signed versatile infielder-outfielder Xavier Nady to a minor league deal with no opt out on Sunday.

Nady, who arrived in Viera late Saturday evening, will not be in major league camp. He will begin to work himself back into playing shape in minor league camp and is expected to start the season at Triple-A Syracuse.

The Nationals saw Nady, who is a client of agent Scott Boras, working out in California in the past week and felt he was in great shape. Nady is now almost three years removed from his second Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in July 2009 when he was with the Yankees, and played in 82 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011.

Nady, who missed the last 43 games of the 2011 season with a fractured left hand, hit .248 with four homers and 11 doubles for the NL West champions.

“He’s a player I’ve always had interest in,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. “He’s motivated and he’s coming into camp. He’s in great shape and he’ll be on the minor league side, getting his swings in and trying to get back into baseball shape. We’ll take it from there.”

Nady was on board with the Nationals’ suggestion that he would most likely begin the season at Triple-A, knowing that with less than three weeks to go before Opening Day, chances would be slim that he would find a place on any major league roster.

Injuries have plagued Nady throughout his career, anything from hamstrings to shoulders, but the worst for Nady has been his right ulnar collateral ligament, which has needed Tommy John surgery in both 2002 and 2009.

If he’s healthy, though, he could provide the Nationals with right-handed, veteran insurance at both corner outfield positions as well as first and third base. The outfield and first base are where he’s played the most over the course of his eight-plus-year career.

The Nationals have maintained that they are not overly concerned about the injuries to left fielder Michael Morse (lat strain) and first baseman Adam LaRoche (left foot bone bruise), but Nady gives them another layer of help if necessary.

“Our scouts really liked the way his body looked, and he looked like he’s swinging the bat in good shape,” Rizzo said. “He’s knocking off some rust right now, but we feel that, coming into minor league camp, it’s a very low-risk — no-risk — acquisition and a guy that could reap us some benefits down the road.”

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