Kevin Frandsen has mixed emotions about returning to face the Phillies for the first time as a member of the Washington Nationals.
Frandsen opted for free agency at the end of spring training instead of accepting an assignment to triple-A Lehigh Valley .
Even though his $900,000 contract was guaranteed, Frandsen rolled the dice and signed with the Nationals for the same amount.
Speaking before Friday's game at Citizens Bank Park, Frandsen alternated between being bitter and appreciative.
The bitterness was directed toward the front office, which he believes made the decision to send him to the minors.
"I know where I stand with the coaching staff and where I was with the other guys," Frandsen said. "I felt more confident about myself than they saw on the management side."
Frandsen maintains a close relationship with Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg, who also managed him at Lehigh Valley.
"We had a history of three years together," Sandberg said. "He's just a complete battler . . . . I'm glad to see he's at where he's at."
When Freddy Galvis contracted a MRSA infection, the Phillies needed a backup infielder who could play third base and shortstop, and they didn't think Frandsen fit the bill. He played 52 games at third base in 2012, but only four last season, his second with the Phillies.
"I earned my way to be on the bench, to being a vital part over there," he said. "That is what I thought, and that is the feeling I have."
Frandsen thought he proved himself, especially as a pinch-hitter and against lefthanded pitching. Last season, he led the majors with 14 pinch-hits. In his two years with the Phillies, he batted .353 with a .920 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 156 plate appearances against lefthanders.
He said the Phillies talked about how the team needed better production against lefthanded pitchers and considered him a good solution.
"I always would just laugh and just be like, 'I didn't prove anything against lefthanders the last two years for you guys?' " Frandsen said.
He added that he was blindsided when told he would be sent down.
"I was like the ball boy on the sideline who got run over by someone," said Frandsen, who entered the game hitting .289.
He was not in the starting lineup, but he pinch-hit for starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg with two outs in the seventh inning and the tying run at second. Facing Phillies lefty Cliff Lee, he flied deep to right.
Frandsen does have fond memories of his time with the Phillies.
"You can sense that I am [ticked off] about it, but I am grateful for the opportunity at both places," Frandsen said. "I will always think fondly [about] what is over there on the other side."
Frandsen didn't play the outfield for the Phillies, but he has been in nine games in left field for Washington.
He said he misses the great support of the Phillies fans. He liked everything about the Phillies, exceptfor the conclusion.
"When it comes to thinking about my time with the Phillies, it was a great time," he said. "It just ended very abruptly."
Darin Ruf, out since March 20 with a left oblique strain, has been taking batting practice and going through workouts in extended spring training and is getting close to participating in games, Sandberg said.