by Craig Heist

VIERA, Fla. (CBSDC) — To say Jamey Carroll is off to a slow start this spring would be an understatement.

Carroll, who turned 40 last month, signed a Minor League contract and is battling for a utility infield spot with the Washington Nationals. He is up against some pretty good competition and so far this spring, he has struggled at the plate, hitting just .133 (2-for-15).

Carroll has played in the majors for 14 years with seven different teams and it is his track record that makes him appealing to Nationals manager Matt Williams.

“I know him,” Williams said. “I’ve seen him, playing against him so I know what he brings. I know exactly what his game is and what he can do. He can play all three infield spots and can do all the things on a baseball diamond you would need from him to do. You can hit and run with him, he can move a runner, he can lay down a sacrifice bunt and he can drive in a run. He understands the game, he’s a smart base runner.”

While all these things are true about Carroll, father time can bring a big time reality check. Carroll knows he isn’t the player he once was, but Williams says veteran players like Carroll are always willing to make adjustments to maintain their productivity.

“I don’t think he would say he is the same today as when he was 20, but he’s a professional baseball player and he’s done it for a long time and he understands what he needs to do to be successful.

“If he feels at all like he’s lost a step, he knows how to position himself to where you can compensate for that. If he feels like he has lost some bat speed, he knows how to compensate by moving off the plate a bit and back in the box a little bit further so he can allow himself a little more distance. You gain that with experience and he certainly has that. He’s a pro. He knows how to play the game.”

Carroll is battling Zach Walters, Danny Espinosa, Mike Fontenot and Jeff Kobernus for a roster spot, but Williams won’t give up on the veteran.

“He knows how to play the game,” he said. “He knows what situation the game will dictate. I shy away from saying the little things but rather, the real important things for your club. He knows what to do and how to do it and what he can do to help our team win so, I think he’s played really well.”

Follow Craig Heist and 106.7 The Fan on Twitter.

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