The Nationals waited until close to 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon to post their lineup and when they did first baseman Adam LaRoche was surprised, to say the least, that he wasn’t in it.
LaRoche, who on top of dealing with a tear in the labrum of his throwing shoulder, tweaked the left side of his groin on Sunday afternoon in New York, pleaded his case pretty strongly but Nationals manager Jim Riggleman wouldn’t budge, instead siding with the trainers who would like LaRoche to rest at least one more day after this as well.
“I’m not blaming anybody,” LaRoche said after returning from Riggleman’s office with the final word that he’d be out of the lineup. “It is what it is. If I was making out the lineup, my name would be in it. That being said, I don’t always make the smartest decisions… Just because I don’t like it, doesn’t mean it’s not right.”
LaRoche said he did everything he could to talk his way back into the lineup “except throw blows.”
It wasn’t the only notable abscence from the Nationals lineup, that was already without third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, as they prepared to take on Phillies right-hander Joe Blanton. Michael Morse was feeling under the weather as well so the Nationals were left with a lot of vacancies. Laynce Nix got the start in left field in Morse’s stead.
“Selfishly, I can’t stand not playing,” LaRoche said. “If it’s a situation where guys need at-bats, or if somebody needs to get in to play first, I’m not going to bother you because I want to take care of the bench guys 100 percent. But this time of year, we’ve had a ton of off days, I missed a game the other day, and I just don’t want it to turn into a pattern.
“We’ve got Zim, our best player, out. This is not the time for guys to be missing games that need to be in the lineup, period.”
Riggleman did say that LaRoche would be available to pinch hit Tuesday night and that he hoped Morse would be as well, provided he was feeling better as time went on.
“The information we got from the doctor and from the trainer is we really want to hold him off for a little bit,” Riggleman said. “Hopefully, that little bit just means tonight. But I think they’re pushing for a little more than that. Adam is pushing to play tonight. So maybe we make a little compromise somewhere in there between.”
“I feel good about the lineup we’re going to put out there,” Riggleman said. “I feel like we’re not going to put guys out there who are either sick or hurt. I feel good about the potential of what Nix and Hairston and Stairs can give us tonight.”
Here are the full lineups:
Ian Desmond SS
Rick Ankiel CF
Jayson Werth RF
Matt Stairs 1B
Wilson Ramos C
Laynce Nix LF
Danny Espinosa 2B
Jerry Hairston Jr. 3B
Livan Hernandez P
Shane Victorino CF
Placido Polanco 3B
Jimmy Rollins SS
Ryan Howard 1B
Ben Francisco RF
Raul Ibanez LF
Carlos Ruiz C
Wilson Valdez 2B
Joe Blanton P