CINCINNATI — Adam LaRoche was feeling “way better,” on Sunday morning after dealing with stiffness in the middle of his back for the last several days.
LaRoche was not in the Nationals’ lineup for Sunday’s rubber match against the Cincinnati Reds, but he was relieved by the improvements he felt when he woke up on Sunday.
“When I got up and I could just put my pants on and my shoes on without having to lie down, that was really good,” LaRoche said.
The Nationals’ first baseman made an attempt to talk manager Davey Johnson into letting him play, but he said it was shot down fairly quickly.
“I usually get a good feel,” LaRoche said. “As soon as I walk in, before I say a word, if he says ‘Don’t even think about it.’ Then I know I’ve got no shot.”
LaRoche said he’ll continue to get treatment and “keep doing what we’re doing. Something works.”
The Nationals have an off day on Monday before they welcome the Chicago White Sox to Nationals Park on Tuesday.
Chad Tracy took LaRoche’s place in the Nationals lineup for the second straight day as the Nationals will face right-hander Johnny Cueto in the series finale. They’ll send Stephen Strasburg to the mound to counter.
One interesting note about the Reds’ lineup today: it likely presents a good example of how the Nationals’ lack of a short lefty reliever affects the way other teams prepare for them.
With a right-handed starter going, Dusty Baker has loaded the top of the Reds’ lineup with left-handers. Four of the first five batters bat left-handed, actually, with Brandon Phillips being the lone exception. The last four batters hit right-handed. But Baker can stack left-handers and right-handers without worrying that, later in the game, he’s putting the top of his order into an adverse match-up when it comes to left vs. right. They know they’ll almost certainly be facing a right-hander.
That’s not to say it’ll make a huge difference if the Nationals’ relievers are pitching the way they’re capable of, but it’s an interesting structure nonetheless.
Here are the full lineups:
Denard Span CF
Jayson Werth RF
Bryce Harper LF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Chad Tracy 1B
Ian Desmond SS
Danny Espinosa 2B
Kurt Suzuki C
Stephen Strasburg P
Shin-Soo Choo CF
Xavier Paul LF
Joey Votto 1B
Brandon Phillips 2B
Jay Bruce RF
Todd Frazier 3B
Zack Cozart SS
Ryan Hanigan C
Johnny Cueto P