DENVER — Nationals manager Davey Johnson has a little problem with first baseman Adam LaRoche. Every time he talks to the first baseman about the possibility of giving him some time off to keep him rested and healthy, LaRoche’s play makes it extremely difficult for Johnson to do it.
Tuesday afternoon, Johnson pulled LaRoche aside and told him he was going to give him one of the next two games off and the first baseman could take his pick: the night game on Wednesday or the day game on Thursday.
“He said ‘Which one has the best fastball?’” Johnson said, before informing him that left-hander Josh Outman, indeed, had the best fastball of the two they’d face. “He said, ‘I’ll take the guy who likes his fastball.’ The other guy is up from Double-A. He’ll fit right in for (Mark) DeRosa who’s been playing (in the minors).”
After hitting two home runs on Tuesday night, LaRoche strolled into the clubhouse a little later than usual for him, a good indication that he knew he was getting the day off, but still quipped when a reporter approached him that “your guess is as good as mine.” Then he joked that a good story should be made up as to why, after hitting two homers the night before, he was benched.
Really, though, it was just more of the same from the Nationals’ first baseman.
“It seems like every time I have a conversation with LaRoche, whether it’s in spring training about platooning so I’d have a healthy first baseman, or what, he goes off on a tear,” Johnson said. “Any time I say hello to him and have a conversation with him he goes off. I tell him ‘I’m going to give you a day off.’ He says ‘OK, you’re going to do it after I hit two home runs.’”
“But,” Johnson added, “It’s a lot easier to rest sitting on two home runs than an 0-fer.”
Johnson said he always remembers when he was in the process of hitting 43 home runs for the Atlanta Braves and the manager of that Braves team, Eddie Mathews, kept telling him he would be getting “tomorrow” off. “I’d say ‘Great.’ Then I’d hit a home run that night and I was always in the lineup the next night. It wore one me.”
At any rate, the good news is that LaRoche is not hurt and he’s just getting a routine day off. Tyler Moore gets the start at first base in his place and Mark DeRosa will play left field.
Here are the full lineups as the Nationals hope they don’t have an offensive hangover after 12 runs and 21 hits on Tuesday night:
Danny Espinosa 2B
Bryce Harper CF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Michael Morse RF
Ian Desmond SS
Mark DeRosa LF
Tyler Moore 1B
Jhonatan Solano C
Jordan Zimmermann P
Dexter Fowler CF
Marco Scutaro SS
Carlos Gonzalez LF
Michael Cuddyer 1B
Tyler Colvin RF
Jordan Pacheco 3B
Chris Nelson 2B
Wilin Rosario C
Edwar Cabrera P