MIAMI — Early Monday afternoon, Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson sent a text message to first baseman Adam LaRoche. He wanted to chat.
Johnson was planning to sit LaRoche, his Gold Glove first baseman, for a night in order to get Tyler Moore into the lineup. Moore, one of the Nationals’ bright young talents on the bench, had not started a single game this season and Johnson felt it was important to get him a game here or there to keep him sharp coming off the bench.
“It’s about getting 25 guys going,” Johnson said. “Not just one or two.”
“He’s an everyday player for most teams and Davey’s in a little tricky spot,” LaRoche said. “He’s got to give him some at-bats… We’ve talked about it plenty in the past and we talked about it some more this morning. This is no time to be selfish. The guy needs to get some at-bats.
“It’s tough being that young and coming off the bench, getting one at-bat every-other-night. As much as I want to play, I understand where the team is coming from.”
LaRoche dealt with a stiff back about 10 days ago when the team was in Cincinnati and it cost him two games, but Chad Tracy started those games at first base in his stead.
LaRoche said his back was feeling fine, and continuing to improve, when he got the word from Johnson that he planned to give him a day off.
“We talked about it in his office for a couple of minutes,” LaRoche said. “He knows my position: If I can play at all, I want to play, period. Regardless of who’s pitching or what I’ve been doing at the plate.
“The other side of that is, he’s my boss. I’m going to state my point and let him make the final decision and respect that. I certainly understand that (Moore) needs at-bats, and we’ve got to get guys in there. That’s the only unfortunate thing about having bench guys that should be playing every day on most clubs.”