MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Ryan hopes to win bench job with Nats

Ryan hopes to win bench job with Nats

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Infielder Brendan Ryan is showing that he wants to be on the Nationals' 25-man roster come Opening Day on April 4 against the Braves. After Sunday's 7-6 loss to the Tigers, Ryan is 8-for-20 (.400) with four runs scored.

"That's what he is supposed to do. He is trying to make the club," manager Dusty Baker said. "This guy doesn't have 10 years of experience for nothing. He is playing every position. He's hustling. He was down a couple of days with a [strained left oblique]. We want him to give himself the best chance to make this club. It appears like he's in good shape now. He is playing his butt off."

Ryan, who signed a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training on Feb. 2, credits hitting coach Rick Schu for his success thus far. The two decided they were going to keep things as simple as possible in the batter's box. It starts with batting practice. Ryan tries to keep his cool and takes it into the game. In the eighth inning, for example, Ryan doubled down the left-field line off right-hander Drew VerHagen and later scored on a single by Jose Lobaton.

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In nine big league seasons split between the Cardinals, Mariners and Yankees, Ryan boasts a .234 average with 19 homers and 203 RBIs. Most of his playing time defensively has come at shortstop, but he has also played second, third, first and a handful of games in the outfield.

With two weeks left in camp, Ryan realizes he has no control of the roster decisions. All he can do is have good at-bats and play good defense.

"My brother and I talk almost every day, and that's where we try to put the focus -- cliche stuff," Ryan said. "Do what you can control and all that. It would be nice to break [camp with the guys], but it's not up to me. I'm just trying to make it tough on them."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.