Jim Negrych has a .302 career batting average in six pro seasons, so there's never been any doubt that he can hit.
Despite that lofty number, the former Curve infielder found himself without a job until a week ago after getting released on the final day of spring training by the Marlins.
Negrych, a Pitt product, bided his time until an opportunity arose, and he didn't have to wait too long into the season before the Nationals came calling with a roster spot on Harrisburg.
"Hopefully I'll get an opportunity to go out there and play a little bit and be able to show that I can play every day and be competent in the lineup," Negrych said.
"But right now, the team's in first place, they're winning some ballgames, so it's more of just fitting in and finding a role. I'm just happy to be playing, so I'll do anything I can just being productive and helping these guys win."
Negrych played for the Curve in 2008 and '09 and was a member of the club's Eastern League championship team in 2010. The scrappy 5-foot-10, 180-pounder was never spectacular but was always steady for Altoona, hitting .310, .272 and .274 in his seasons with the team.
The Pirates gave him a shot in Triple-A in 2010, and as he's always done, he hit well. Negrych batted .295 with three homers and 19 RBIs in 48 games for Indianapolis, but other infielders took priority over him, so the Bucs demoted him back to Altoona for the final month of the season.
Negrych, who can play second, third and left field but doesn't excel anywhere defensively, was hoping for a chance to make the Triple-A team in spring training in 2011. He said he would prefer to be released if that didn't happen, and when the Pirates didn't have a spot for him in Indy, they traded him to the Marlins.
Negrych didn't want to be in Double-A with the Pirates any longer, but he spent all of 2011 at that level with the Marlins. He had another productive offensive season, hitting .304 with five homers and 46 RBIs for Jacksonville.
After getting signed by the Nationals recently, Negrych spent a few days getting back into playing shape at their extended spring training site in Viera, Fla. Tuesday night marked his first appearance with Harrisburg, and his first game as a visiting player in Altoona.
Negrych had a pinch-hit RBI single in his first at-bat for the Senators in the eighth inning Wednesday.
"It was definitely different coming in and not going to the Curve locker room," Negrych said. "Obviously it's a great place to play and a nice stadium, and it's always a good atmosphere. It's enjoyable to be back."
Harrisburg manager Matt LeCroy doesn't yet know exactly what Negrych's role will be with his club, which so far appears to be one of the EL's best.
"Right now we'll use him as a pinch hitter and get him some time over at third," LeCroy said. "He's an offensive-minded player - we needed a guy like that - so we'll get him in as much as we can on the offensive side."
It's easy to be impressed by the Senators, and Negrych was after watching his new teammates for the first time Tuesday.
"They do everything pretty well," he said. "They field the ball, they don't make stupid mistakes. They're just going to play the game solid."
That sounds like the 2010 Curve championship team in many ways, and Negrych still sings the praises of that club.
"The 2010 team is not going to be replaced," he said. "That was about as good of a Double-A team as you can get. On the mound and offensively and defensively, we had a lot of things on that team that you just don't see in minor league baseball."