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Justin Maxwell enters third stint with Nationals in 2010

Outfielder Justin Maxwell, who has played 21 games with the Nationals over two stints, returned to the team from Class AAA Syracuse on Saturday and earned the start in center field. Manager Jim Riggleman wanted to give starter Nyjer Morgan the evening off and utilize Maxwell's bat against left-handed pitching while the roster did not require a fifth starting pitcher, but it amounts to another opportunity for Maxwell in his second season cycling between the minor leagues and major leagues.

"Last year was my first experience doing it, so I didn't know how to go about it," Maxwell said. "This year, wherever I am, my job is to play baseball. So, it's been a lot easier adjusting this year to the experience."

Maxwell's wife told him he cannot be nervous, which Maxwell agreed with because he's become used to the routine. He knows everyone on both the Washington and Class AAA Syracuse rosters, so he's comfortable within both clubhouses.

Maxwell had been hitting well in Syracuse, with an on-base percentage of .400. He played mostly center field. Although he has played right field for the Nationals this season, Riggleman said Maxwell profiles as a center fielder. But it is the bat -- not the glove or arm -- that is preventing Maxwell from becoming a regular with the Nationals.

"When Justin was here earlier, one thing he did was, against left-handed pitching, he got on base a lot," Riggleman said. "He was walking a lot, and he's done the same thing in triple-A. He's gotten on base, he draws walks, he can run. So, I want him to continue doing what he's doing, and just to continue to try to make progress with the bat. All the other aspects of his game, he's got it figured out. He just needs to become a big-league hitter, and he's working very hard to do it."

He must improve right-handed pitching, although his opportunities have been limited. He's batting .280 against righties in Syracuse compared to .328 against lefties. That has been one of the reasons why Maxwell's at bats have been limited in the majors, and with a handful of left-handed hitters, Riggleman has utilized Maxwell mostly as a situational starter.

"As a right-handed hitter, to nail down a job in the big leagues, you got to be a really hitter because you're going to be face all the right-handed pitching," Riggleman said. "To be a regular in the big leagues, you got to be able to hit right-handed pitching. It is a challenge, and he works very hard and he puts in a lot of time. ...We're waiting for it all to come together."

By Zach Berman  |  July 10, 2010; 6:11 PM ET
Categories:  Justin Maxwell  | Tags: Justin Maxwell  
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Good luck, Justin. Hope you do well and spark some wins!

Posted by: NickfromGermantown | July 10, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

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