Nady enjoys reunion with Pirates
Outfielder faces ex-team for first time since trade to Yankees
TAMPA, Fla. -- It all happened so quickly, Xavier Nady didn't have time to say goodbye. For a night at George M. Steinbrenner Field, the former Pirates outfielder had a chance to re-connect with his old team.
Nady was standing on the on-deck circle waiting for his first at-bat against the Padres on Friday, July 25, 2008, when he was pulled back and told he was traded, along with Damaso Marte, to the Yankees in return for Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens and Daniel McCutchen. There was no opportunity for a proper farewell, so prior to Tuesday night's Grapefruit League game between the Yanks and Bucs, Nady enjoyed the first time he had to really catch up with his former teammates.
"I keep in touch with a lot of guys during the offseason," Nady said. "I saw Jack [Wilson] on the flight out, so I got to hang out with him. I hadn't seen Nate [McLouth] or Donnie [Long]. I had talked with Donnie Long during the offseason. I missed that trip the other day. It's hard. Spring Training is tough. I've got a kid, so it makes the traveling a little harder to go over and take a day to play golf with [Adam] LaRoche or something like that."
During batting practice, Nady was able to share a few moments and a hug with McLouth, as well as manager John Russell, before heading back to his new clubhouse. The end of last season was a bit of a whirlwind for the 30-year-old outfielder, so the spring is allowing him to really settle in with the Yankees.
"It's been a blast," Nady said. "The last two months were a lot of fun. Obviously, we wanted to be playing in October, but I think with the additions they made this year, if the guys stay healthy, hopefully we'll find ourselves playing in October.
"From a personal standpoint, everyone's been extremely kind, from the coaching staff to the front office, it's been very welcoming."
Nady saw the writing on the wall and knew his days with the Pirates, the team he joined in 2006, were numbered. He didn't exactly expect it to happen the way it went down, and the ensuing days, post-trade, were surreal to say the least.
Nady high-tailed it to Boston, where the Yankees were playing the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Often, players get a little time to ease into a new situation, but Nady felt it best to get to his new team as quickly as possible, getting thrown right into the fire that is the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.
"[The trade] didn't sink in until the next day when I walked into Fenway on an hour's sleep," Nady said. "Next thing you know, you're throwing on a Yankees uniform. It was really an honor to throw on that uniform.
"I was so tired and out of it, it was a good way to happen. I didn't have time to think about it. The next thing you know, you're right in it. I didn't really help, but it was pretty neat. I'd had the opportunity to play in Fenway before, but not like that."
While the Yankees did fall short of making the postseason in 2008, Nady did get to participate in the final game at the old Yankee Stadium, another memory he won't soon forget.
"It was very special," Nady said. "The names I got to run out on the field with that night, just the history ... I try to have a good understanding of what those guys had done for Yankee baseball. It was a very emotional night for a lot of people. For me only being there for two months, I can only imagine what it was like for the guys like [Derek] Jeter, who'd been there for a long time."
Nady, like Jason Bay, understood the direction the Pirates were heading in, and that likely meant he'd be finding a new home by last year's Trade Deadline. Nady hasn't followed the Pirates' moves since then as closely, but he gets a sense that management had a plan it wants to continue to follow.
"Truthfully, I've been kind of out of the loop the last eight months," Nady said. "I think we knew from a financial standpoint, we heard grumblings of what they were going to do with salary. They went out and got some young talent. With [general manager Neal] Huntington and [president Frank] Coonelly there now, they've got a whole different vision. I'm sure it's a good one, and hopefully it works out."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.