With Nyjer Morgan being placed on the 15-day DL, the Nationals needed to bring another position player into the organization to take outfield time away from Michael Morse. The Nats farm system is pretty sparce on outfielders on the 40-man roster, especially with Justin Maxwell already with the big club. But on Thursday night, J.D. Martin went on the 60-day DL. This opens up a 40-man roster spot for a player. So why Kevin Mench?
Well simply because Martin is likely gone for the season, that didn't automatically mean a pitcher would replace him. Especially considering Martin was already out of the rotation with his injury on the 15-day DL. The Nats have a number of pitchers trying to make their way back, and the first of them will be Jason Marquis on Sunday against the Dodgers.
Kevin Mench was drafted in 1999 by the Texas Rangers and made his MLB debut in 2002 with that organization at 24 years old. In his rookie year, Mench hit .260 with a .327 OBP. He managed to crush 15 HR and plate 60 RBI. He ended up in the top 10 for Rookie of the Year voting that year.
In 2003, Mench only appeared in 38 games due to injury. Over his next two and a half seasons with the Rangers, Mench hit .274 and clubbed 63 home runs. He never hit above .270 again in the majors. He spent the 2nd half of 2006 and the 2007 season in Milwaukee, and was then released. After a brief stint in the minors back in Texas, he was traded to Toronto in 2008. He made 51 appearances that year batting a mere .243 and no home runs. He played 2009's season in the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan with the Hanshin Tigers.
In February this year, the Nationals picked up Mench and signed him to a minor league contract. This week, Mench will get his chance.
I said in jest to start the post that he was called up to steal Michael Morse's much needed playing time. However, it seems unlikely that Mench will see much starting time at all. Justin Maxwell is still probably ahead of him in chances for starts as the Nationals still think Maxwell will break out one day. Not sure that day will ever come, but I digress. Furthermore, Morse, Maxwell, and Mench are all righties... and all inexplicably have names that start with M. Still, with Jim Riggleman managing the club, it's impossible to know what he's thinking on a given day when filling out the lineup card.