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"Winning team," he thought.
Nearly 24 hours later, Hairston was in the Nationals clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park, having just watched his new team lose 3-2 to the Phillies but no less excited to be a part of a Washington club gearing up for a pennant race.
"I know this is going to be good for me, to be in this environment," he said. "I haven't been in a winning environment in quite a while, so it feels good."
Hairston has played for only two winning teams in his 10 big-league seasons: the 2007 and 2010 Padres. He has never reached the postseason.
The Nationals hope the 33-year-old can help be one piece to a puzzle that propels them back into the playoffs for the second straight October, believing he'll provide a more productive, right-handed bat off the bench than the inexperienced Tyler Moore (who was optioned to Class AAA Syracuse yesterday) did.
"We need a veteran presence on the bench, not some youngster," manager Davey Johnson said. "He knows the pitchers. and he knows what he needs to do to hit."
Once a highly touted, power-hitting prospect with the Diamondbacks — he was originally drafted by Mike Rizzo, then Arizona's scouting director, in 2001 — Hairston has learned over the years how to succeed coming off the bench.
It's a role Hairston has grown to embrace.
"I'm very comfortable with that," he said. "I've been used to that the last few years. Coming over here, I expected the same thing."
Hairston also is excited to return to the NL East, where he spent the last two seasons with the Mets. He particularly has a strong track record against the Phillies, sporting a .985 OPS in 84 career plate appearances against pitchers currently on Philadelphia's staff.
He could get a chance to face one of them, Cole Hamels, tonight. Hairston's career numbers against Hamels: 12-for-30, five doubles, five homers.
"When you see pitchers that you've seen before and the way that they've pitched you, it makes things a little easier mentally," Hairston said. "Going to a different division, sometimes you're hard on yourself and try to do too much against pitchers you haven't seen. But I played in these ballparks. I've faced these pitchers. They're tough, but it's still nice to face pitchers you're familiar with."