JUPITER, Fla. -- As Chris Coste unpacked his equipment bag inside the clubhouse at Roger Dean Stadium this morning, it was immediately clear to even a casual observer that he looked a bit out of sorts.
His royal blue Mets bag stood out like a sore thumb among all the other navy blue Nationals bags. Same for his catcher's mask. A steady stream of teammates, coaches and trainers made their way up to the 37-year-old to introduce themselves and welcome Coste to the organization.
Uncomfortable or not, Coste is simply glad to have this new opportunity.
"I haven't had a chance to really communicate with the Nationals about what the opportunity is going to be," he said. "But whatever it is, it's already better than what it was yesterday with the Mets. Whatever the situation is, it's going to be positive."
Two days ago, Coste was placed on waivers by the Mets. Yesterday, the Nationals claimed him. Today, he's in a Washington uniform, wearing No. 18 and expecting to catch at least a few innings against the Marlins.
The former Phillie, Astro and Met will only be with the Nationals for a few days. He's likely to open the season at Class AAA Syracuse, but a promotion to Washington is only a phone call away.
"Yeah, I don't really have much of a choice in that," Coste said. "I would [have no problem reporting to Syracuse] simply because if I'm the next guy in line, that's not such a bad position to be in. At 37, to go back to the minor leagues, yeah that would be disappointing. But I've played a lot of years in the minors. I'm sure I'll get a handle of it again."
Coste has plenty of minor-league experience. He didn't make his big-league debut with the Phillies until age 33 (and wound up writing a book about it, appropriately titled "The 33-Year-Old Rookie"). But he's had some success at the big-league level, hitting .272 with 23 homers and 108 RBI in 299 career games.
The Nationals were close to signing Coste over the winter, but he wound up going to the Mets, figuring he'd make the roster and get significant playing time. But New York wound up with five catchers this spring, and Coste was among the odd men out.
Thus, he found himself among a clubhouse of relative strangers this morning, trying his best to blend in despite all that royal blue equipment.
"It's kind of nice when you switch teams to go to a team you're familiar with," he said. "Having played against the Nationals and at least having an idea of the different pitchers and knowing some of the guys from playing against them, it makes it a little more comfortable. It's definitely a positive situation no matter how it starts out."