Viera, Fla. – When an 11-year major-league veteran such as outfielder Jason Michaels finds himself in Triple-A, he’s usually not happy.
But Michaels, who was released by the Washington Nationals earlier this week, but signed a minor-league contract to play in Syracuse, genuinely appears happy to have a job.
“I still love the game, that’s No. 1,’’ Michaels said during his first day with the Chiefs. “No. 2 , I still feel like I can contribute in some way. I just need to keep playing and keep my at-bats up.’’
Michaels, 35, has played in the big leagues with Philadelphia, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Houston, He spent the last three seasons with the Astros. When Michaels played for the Pirates in 2008, first-year Chiefs manager Tony Beasley was the Pirates’ third base coach.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said cutting Michaels was one of the more difficult decisions of the spring.
“I really like him,’’ Johnson said. “He’s a major-league player. He just wasn’t a good fit for us right now.’’
Johnson expressed hope that Michaels would go to Triple-A, which eventually happened.
Michaels said he might even be inspired playing in Syracuse with top prospects such as outfielder Bryce Harper and first baseman Tyler Moore.
“We’ll win some games down here and have some fun,’’ Michaels said. “That’s what I like to do, have fun.
“It looks like we’ll have a good competitive team,’’ Michaels added “I really do look forward to it.’’