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When It Clicked: Braves OF Nate McLouth

Since we began asking players the question(s) behind this feature -- When did it click for you, and why? -- no answer has been more common than the one that is perhaps the least introspective possible: Just getting an opportunity to play.

We normally stop the tape recorder, say thank you and move on to the next guy whenever someone heads down that road, but in the case of Nate McLouth, the all-star outfielder who was traded this week from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Atlanta Braves, we let it slide.

For one thing, he's basically correct. His first opportunity to play every day came in August 2007, at the age of 25, and he hit .270 with seven homers and an .878 OPS for the month, then followed that by hitting .315 with a 1.031 OPS in September. It was enough to earn him the starting job in 2008, and he responded by going .276-26-94 and making the all-star team.

Here, then, is Nate McLouth telling us when it clicked:

"Really, it was just getting a chance to play every day. I always worked hard. That's the main thing that got me to this point. But last year I was given the chance to play, and things went pretty well. I always felt if I got the opportunity I'd be able to produce. It's as simple as that.

"When I was younger and not playing very much, I kept working hard, didn't complain about it. I didn't get down or feel sorry for myself. And then when I finally got in [the lineup], things happened pretty quickly. I started feeling comfortable, and when you're playing baseball feeling comfortable is one of the most important things.

"It probably took a couple of months before I started feeling really established. Baseball's such a long season, and anybody can have a couple of hot weeks. I think the people who sustain it longer are the ones who establish themselves as everyday players, and that's what I set out to do."

By Dave Sheinin  |  June 5, 2009; 7:36 AM ET
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As a life-long Pirate fan, the McLouth trade hurts me more than the Bay trade last year. We knew Bay's free agent status meant he'd go. Nate was the kind of player management told us they were going to build with, from within.

Posted by: dlk117561 | June 5, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

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