MILWAUKEE — When Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche arrived at Miller Park on Sunday morning he alerted the Nationals’ training staff to the possibility that his back, which had been tightening up on him some in the past two weeks, might not be loose enough for him to play.
He went through an abbreviated pre-game routine in an attempt to get it to do so, but with shortened recovery time between Saturday night’s game and Sunday’s matinee, it never could get loose enough. LaRoche was pulled after 3 1/2 innings on Sunday, succumbing to back spasms.
“He’s pretty durable,” said Nationals manager Davey Johnson. “He never says anything, never comes out of a ballgame. When I heard he had a problem I immediately made the change.”
Tyler Moore replaced LaRoche at first base (and went 1-for-2 on the day before being replaced by Michael Morse) and LaRoche visited with doctors who assured him it appeared to be only a muscular issue and not involving nerves.
While neither LaRoche nor Johnson felt the issue was anything too serious, LaRoche was unsure if he’d be ready for Tuesday night’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
“No clue,” he said.
LaRoche singled in the top of the fourth inning but was removed before the Nationals came onto the field for the bottom half of the frame. He said though the issue has not caused him pain while swinging he could feel it Sunday running around on the bases and in the field.
LaRoche has been getting treatment on his back for about a week or two, he said, but usually he finds there’s plenty of time for the training staff to loosen it up and he’s able to go from there. He expected to either go to Nationals Park on Monday’s offday for treatment or take home a muscle stimulator unit to treat it himself while getting some rest.
“Hopefully a day tomorrow to relax and see what happens,” LaRoche said. “I’ll definitely stay on it tomorrow and try to get past it.”
LaRoche is one of only two Nationals’ projected Opening Day starters who has yet to land on the disabled list, though he did miss four games in May with a sore oblique and struggled throughout spring training with a bone bruise in his left foot.