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Healthy Skole tries to re-establish himself

Feb 17, 2014, 9:56 AM EST


VIERA, Fla. — Matt Skole doesn’t figure into the Nationals’ immediate plans, and his stint in big-league camp this spring likely won’t last long.

Many in the organization, though, see big things from the young slugger down the road, perhaps as soon as later this summer.

Skole, the Nationals’ minor league player of the year in 2012 after hitting .291 with 27 homers, 104 RBI and a stout .426 on-base percentage at Class A, suffered a setback only two games into 2013 when he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left (non-throwing) elbow on a freak play at first base.

Fully rehabbed from a rare Tommy John surgery for a position player, Skole is back in major-league camp this spring and showed off his skills Sunday during a batting practice session for early reportees.

“I like Skoley,” manager Matt Williams said. “He had a tough break last year. Saw him a little bit in the [Arizona] Fall League. He had just come back, those were his first at-bats. So I anticipate he will look for his timing early this spring, because he really hasn’t played in a year. So it’s gonna be tough for him early.

“But [hitting coach] Rick Schu is working with him now every day. We’ll get his timing back, try to get him a lot of at-bats in spring and get his feet back under him. It’s difficult when you lose that much time. But he’ll be fine. He drives the ball the other way well. He can play both corner positions. So I think he’s got a bright future.”

Skole plays both first base and third base and could be a long-term answer for the Nationals if Adam LaRoche doesn’t return in 2015. His left-handed power swing, combined with his right-handed defense at the two infield corners, leaves Williams remembering a former teammate of his from Cleveland.

“He reminds me a little bit of Thome, the way that Jim Thome used to hit the other way so well,” Williams said. “Skoley does that good. And he takes the ahead-in-the-count fastball, breaking ball, and drives it to his pull side. But he stays on the ball well.”

  1. Doc - Feb 17, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    Nice article on Skole.

    I particularly liked Williams’ analysis of his swing. Jim Thome, eh? Sounds good thome, er, I mean to me.

    Looking forward to daily updates on guys like Skole.

    Thanks Mark.

  2. sjm308 - Feb 17, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    This is the kind of story you just love. I am guessing that Skole starts in AA but it’s not unheard of to jump him up to the majors if he gets a hot start and either Moore or LaRoche struggle. I think I remember hearing that Skole’s defense improved as he moved to first but I could be mistaken.

    You have both Skole and Garcia coming off injury and both could end up as huge assets for us this year. I guess other clubs have the same thing going on but I really only care about one team.

    Go Nats!!

    • Doc - Feb 17, 2014 at 10:29 AM

      sjm308, I watched games in AFL in ’12 and thought that Skole had real good range at 1B.

      • sjm308 - Feb 17, 2014 at 10:47 AM

        thanks Doc – lets see, don’t we have talk about another 3rd baseman moving over to first in the future?

    • Theophilus T.S. - Feb 17, 2014 at 10:55 AM

      It’s difficult to get too excited by Skole unless one is convinced Zimmerman is going to give the team another five-six years at 3B. Instead of thinking of Skole as a hitter w/ star potential (e.g., Thome) you have to think of him as a placeholder, like Moreland at Texas, who’s around because there’s nobody to replace him — yet. Which would be useful but we shouldn’t over-project. If he does develop into a star — and I think there are a lot of questions to be answered — it seems probable it will be with some other team.

  3. David Proctor - Feb 17, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    I like this

    • Eugene in Oregon - Feb 17, 2014 at 11:53 AM


  4. micksback1 - Feb 17, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    skole brotha, lol

  5. David Proctor - Feb 17, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    ALR (and Drake) have showed up. So our infield is accounted for (Zim reported yesterday). None of our outfield is there yet.

  6. naterialguy - Feb 17, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    We need a Spring Training Web Cam

    • Sonny G 10 - Feb 18, 2014 at 12:51 AM

      Hey, I like that idea!!!





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