WASHINGTON -- Former first baseman Nick Johnson, an original member of the Nationals from 2005-07, threw out the first pitch at Nationals Park before Tuesday's game against the Cardinals.
Johnson, 36, was one of the best first basemen in Nationals history. His best season in Washington was in 2006, when he hit .290 with 23 home runs, 77 RBIs, a career-high 100 runs and a .428 on-base percentage before a broken leg ended his season in late September.
"I tried to save runs, help the pitcher, trying to win a ballgame," Johnson said. "I tried not to play one side of the field. You have to play both sides of the ball. It's huge. Defense is a big part of the game."
Johnson misses playing the game, but he acknowledged that his body "is banged up." In fact, injuries often stood in Johnson's way of a great career. Does Johnson think about what his career could have been had he stayed healthy? The answer is sometimes.
"But I can put my head on the pillow at night," Johnson said. "I tried to play the game hard. Injuries happen, and they happened frequently for me. That's the way it goes. I did everything during the offseason to prepare and it just didn't work out."
Johnson is currently living in Sacramento, Calif., raising three kids and watching them play sports all the time. He is also working on his golf game. He also said he wouldn't mind getting back in the game in some capacity.
"I haven't been approached about getting back in the game. Maybe someday," Johnson said. "I watch the games and know what's going on, but I miss hanging out with the guys, competing."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.