Thursday, March 29, 2012

LaRoche ready to open season

US Presswire photo
Adam LaRoche went 1-for-2 with a walk in his first big-league game since March 15.
VIERA, Fla. -- He got plenty of at-bats in minor-league camp over the last week. He passed all the conditioning drills designed to test his bruised left foot. And after playing six innings and stroking a base hit off Braves left-hander Mike Minor in the Nationals' 6-3 victory this afternoon, Adam LaRoche made it clear to Davey Johnson he's ready to open the season with his teammates.

"I'll tell you what: Let's just put this behind us," LaRoche told his manager. "I feel like this is over with. Let's move on and rock-and-roll for the season."

That was music to Johnson's ears. After spending much of the last month wondering about the status of his veteran first baseman, he's now confident that won't be a lingering issue any longer.

"Yeah, I even said if he's going to hit left-handers like that, I may revisit the platoon thing," Johnson said, perhaps going back on his plan to have LaRoche share time at first base with right-handed veteran Mark DeRosa.

If LaRoche looks as comfortable at the plate as he did today, the Nationals won't have much to worry about at all. Making his first appearance in a big-league game since March 15, he grounded out in the second inning, then lined a single up the middle in the fourth and drew a walk in the sixth.

LaRoche didn't have much of a chance to run the bases, but he said his foot and ankle felt fine making the few turns he did. He also looked perfectly at ease in the field, corralling the only groundball hit his way and picking several throws from his fellow infielders.

This proved a much more pleasurable experience for LaRoche than his time in minor-league camp, where he struggled to find a comfort level at the plate.

"It's just tough to hit down there for some reason," he said. "I don't know if it's the batter's eye or what it is, I don't see the ball well down there. I don't feel as locked in, as intense. I really wanted to come up here, be on the field with these guys and see some pitches on the big field. All went well."

Johnson said LaRoche will be back in the lineup tomorrow night against the Marlins, and he should see plenty of action during the final week of camp, trying to squeeze in as many at-bats as possible prior to the Nationals' April 5 season opener in Chicago.

"It's had plenty of time to rest," he said. "Let's push it a little bit and see how it's going to bounce back, back-to-back days. I haven't found out. Hopefully do that tomorrow and then take it one day at a time. But I don't have any worries right now."

LaRoche's return helps solidify a Nationals lineup that didn't look too imposing at times this spring. With both LaRoche and Michael Morse (lat strain) sidelined for two weeks, Johnson hadn't been able to get a good look at his regular offensive unit.

Morse still figures to make a brief stint on the disabled list to open the season, so the Nationals will be forced to bump Jayson Werth up to the cleanup slot. LaRoche will likely hit fifth, with either DeRosa or Wilson Ramos behind him.

74 comments:

MicheleS said...

I will pack the bubble wrap just in case!
B25GN!!!

SonnyG10 said...

Hopefully now we'll get to see how much he helps our lineup.

Anonymous said...

I really hope Adam LaRoche gets off to a good start and has a great year for us. Go Nats!
NatsFan05

#4 said...

Just catching up after a full day. I love scrolling through all these comments.

On the 3rd v emergency catcher issue, here is the big difference in my mind. When the roster only has an "emergency" catcher, a manger will almost never use his back-up catcher as a pinch hitter. Those suggesting that Flores will be a good bat off the bench are wrong-headed I think. A manager doesn't want to use a guy like Carroll unless something crazy happens, like both catchers getting hurt in the same game. If Carroll ended up getting hurt except when catching in truly an emergency situation, that would be very problematic for the team. Now if you have an honest to goodness 3rd catcher, the calculus changes a bit.

The discussion about the Wolf - pitching, Wolf-umpiring situation reminded me of my favorite youth league coach. He was a tough love, heart of gold type. He was a particularly good coach for the over-coddled kids. To drive home the essence of competition in order to toughen up his pitchers, his favorite line was, "When you're out there pitching, your mother and father will NOT be umpiring." I always thought there was so much wrapped up in that advice.

Lastly, pencil in LaRoche for .270/25/85. He's going to be a pleasant surprise.

Feel Wood said...

#4, your common sense comment here must be really confusing for Steve M and Section 222. They think a third catcher and an emergency catcher are the same thing.

In reality, though, you are probably right that Flores will not be a bat off the bench very often. But having the emergency catcher available does free Davey up to use him in particularly high leverage situations if he's the most well suited guy still available on the bench.

Steady Eddie said...

Ugh. Livo just had a Livo meltdown vs the Mets and gave up a big crooked 7 in the bottom of the 4th.

1B, 1B, K, 1B, 1B, E, FC, P5, David Wright grand slam.

Feel bad for Livo but even apart from "it's ST," glad the Nats are at last at a place where we didn't even have to think seriously about resigning him for anything.

natsfan1a said...

Just so you don't start popping it, because that's my thing. (Pop.) :-)

MicheleS said...

I will pack the bubble wrap just in case!
B25GN!!!
March 29, 2012 6:40 PM

natsfan1a said...

Come on, you know you want to.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that matters in the second game...Lombo 3/3 against Scherzer and Flores 2/3 against Scherzer. Good hitting against a good pitcher from the only two big league Nats in the game.

Anonymous said...

Feel Wood, you just won't let it go. I'm not even going to try to debate this with you because it will keep this stupidity going.

Gonat said...

Steady Eddie, due to that error before that Wright granny slammy, Livo only ate 4 Earnies. Still not pretty.

Gonat said...

#4, it has been discussed that Davey plans on using his backup catcher in critical situations to pinch-hit.

Seems like a good Q&A for Davey how he plans on handling that situation.

Section 3, My Sofa said...

Hey, no second game thread? Bummer.
Although if it's going to be another two-dogs-with-an-old-bone argument, maybe it's just as well. What are you people, 12?

So, is Lombardozzi playing Emergency Base in the second game?

(It's like popping the bubblewrap--I couldn't stop myself.)

Anonymous said...

Every team has an emergency catcher who isn't really a catcher. Not every team has a backup catcher who hits as good as Flores. Davey being Davey, he might use Flores as a pinch hitter more often than you would a regular backup catcher, because Flores can hit a bomb off the bench. But the identity of the emergency catcher isn't likely to have much to do with his decision.

Exposremains said...

you know what's weird? We haven't heard about Harper in a while..

Section 3, My Sofa said...

Excellent point, Mr. Remains, sir. The discussion doesn't seem to miss his presence. Interesting...

Knoxville Nat said...

Feel Wood is getting to be as annoying as his good friend, JayB.

Both of you should give it a rest.

BethesdaFan said...

Is anyone following the game with Detroit? Gameday is covering it. Very exciting. We are ahead 5-3 with lots of players I haven't heard of. No one is blogging it as far as I can see.

Gonat said...

Anonymous said...
Every team has an emergency catcher who isn't really a catcher. Not every team has a backup catcher who hits as good as Flores. Davey being Davey, he might use Flores as a pinch hitter more often than you would a regular backup catcher, because Flores can hit a bomb off the bench. But the identity of the emergency catcher isn't likely to have much to do with his decision.

March 29, 2012 8:15 PM
______________________________

Agree. The Nats have 2 really good offensive catchers. This is the National League where pinch hitters are used sometimes twice a game.

Situation: Davey sends Bernadina up to the plate and the other manager brings in the lefty and maybe Davey pulls Bernadina for Flores if the game is on the line.

Gonat said...

BethesdaFan said...
Is anyone following the game with Detroit? Gameday is covering it. Very exciting. We are ahead 5-3 with lots of players I haven't heard of. No one is blogging it as far as I can see.

March 29, 2012 8:30 PM
___________________________

I expected Detroit as a 10-0 winner. Hard to believe the job the Nats have done tonight. Detroit has crushed most of the Spring. Another impressive game from Corey Brown, JFlo, and Lombo and all the pitchers.

Gonat said...

Add Tim Pahuta also

FS said...

question for fellow NIs, cafepress has nats insider t-shirts. they are legit, right? that's where I should buy from.

#4 said...

Gonat:

It would be an interesting question to ask Davey. Last year the Nats gave only 16 of the 204 PH at bats to their catchers. I wonder how many of those were in September when they were carrying three catchers - probably most of them.

I went back and looked at Davey's managing in other years. In 2000 he had a good hitting back up catcher in Chad Kreuter. He gave him 0 PH at bats. In 1986 Ed Hearn got just 7 PH ABs - again how many in September? I don't know.

I suppose if he does it infrequently - maybe once a month at most before September in very high leverage situations, it's worth the risk. It does seem to be a change in strategy for him though regardless.

Gonat said...

#4, thanks for the info. I can't wait for Mark to jump into this issue further. Kilgore touched the surface.

Gonat said...

By the way, one of the more satisfying wins of the Spring. For some of these guys, this may be the highlight of their careers.

#4 said...

One other note, in 1988, it looks like the Mets carried three catchers - Gary Carter, Mackey Sasser, and Barry Lyons. The later two each got almost 20 PH at bats.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I watched the entire Tigs-Nats game on MLB.TV and the game was as good as the comments! Following the game, I threw a "smack-down" to my buddy from Detroit who just laughs whenever he hears me rooting for the Nats. "He who laughs last, laughs best," methinks! Go Nats!

Section 3, My Sofa said...

FS, if by "legit" you mean they are from Comcast, I don't think so (AFAIK). CafePress uses your search terms to create products to show you.

Big Cat said...

Haven't heard much from all the HRod bashers this spring. Storen better watch it. Remember Wally Pipp?

Young Pitchers said...

hey that's a Mattingly V-Grip bat LaRoach is holding in the picture. i've got two of those too!

FS said...

Thanks Sec 3. Then where can I get one?

Sunderland said...

MarkZ did set up NatsInsider on CafePress

http://www.natsinsider.com/2010/07/1-million-pageviews-and-counting.html

Feel Wood said...

Anonymous said...
Feel Wood, you just won't let it go. I'm not even going to try to debate this with you because it will keep this stupidity going.


Who are you and what is it we're not debating?

Feelwood's question said...

Is it this?

Third catcher/emergency catcher semantics aside, the question I posed was whether any Nationals manager had ever had to use a player who wasn't normally a catcher as the catcher in an emergency. The Weaver-Sakata situation someone mentioned is a perfect example of that. But Frank Robinson replacing LeCroy with Fick does not qualify, because as I mentioned already, Fick was a catcher. He caught multiple games every season throughout his career. I'd venture to say that few if any of those situations were "emergencies" either. Can anyone come up with a situation where an emergency catcher was used by the Nats?

Doesn't seem like a stupid question to me.

Section 3, My Sofa said...

Young Pitchers said...
hey that's a Mattingly V-Grip bat LaRoach is holding in the picture. i've got two of those too!

Young, how do you like it? I've seen it and was intrigued, but never got to try them. Can you use a prohitter with it, or does the handle shape get in the way?

Section 3, My Sofa said...

Sunderland, thanks for the T-shirt tip.

Dry goods is where the real money is at...

Anonymous said...

UH OH ...

MLBTradeRumors is reporting that the Indians are about to trade former 2005 1st round pick Trevor Crowe ...

He fits the Eury Perez, N. Morgan, Span, Bourn model of speed, base stealing, some gap power in 2010, but didn't play much in 2011. Went to the University of Arizona (Bear Down Arizona!)

My guess would be a package swap involving Roger Bernadina and a pitcher ... to send to Manny Acta ...



The difference? This guy is a switch hitter.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Braves are interested in Nady ... have to wonder if that was why he suddenly started to appear in major league games?

Wonder what the Nats would want from the Braves given they are in the same division? Prospects would be the only answer ... prospects known to Roy Clark.

Anonymous said...

Haven't heard much from all the HRod bashers this spring. Storen better watch it. Remember Wally Pipp?

Don't look at me I'm a huge H-Rod and Mattheus fan ... and I liked Nyjer Morgan's game ...

~smiles~

Now, John Lannan? Of course we'll see how that 3-way tie ends up I suspect a trade is in the offing. That can't go with a 5 man bullpen ... with two guys who only pitch every five days ... whether Lannan, Wang or Detwiler. Notice Gorzelanny doesn't fit that category ...

Section 3, My Sofa said...

Trevor Crowe trade, rumored to the Angels? Ummm... nevermind.

NatsLady said...

So I'm working and can't watch the Detroit game, but I hear a snippet of their announcers complaining that the Nats didn't send any regulars and they have to look deep into the media guide to find out who these guys home.

Now I'm driving home and I hear that the Nats won 5-3 and Clip pitched two perfect innings. So I'm wondering, Lombo, Flores, Clip and our scrubs and drubs beat the mighty Tigers? Guess so. Maybe they were "working on things." Yeah, that's it.

Anonymous said...

you know what's weird? We haven't heard about Harper in a while..

Optioned players aren't allowed to play in ST games once optioned.

Apparently, he has been doing extremely well ... as has Eury Perez. Seven days 'til Syracuse Chiefs opening day ... be sure to get MiLB at Bat the minor league corollary to MLB.com ...

Big competition in Syracuse this year ... greater competition for those roster spots than every before! In the past Rizzo had to get on the phone and cajole free agents into signing to play in AAA. Now, he actually has competition ... can't wait to see the final MiLB rosters and where everyone lands.

NatsLady said...

sorry-- "who these guys are..."

Anonymous said...

Trevor Crowe trade, rumored to the Angels?

No sec3, Abrue is coveted by the Indians and he has been complaining about the fact that he won't get much playing time with the current roster ... but they have to move someday to fit him into their roster ... (Although its been a while since he played in the outfield on a regular basis?) ... Rizzo likes to collect the types of players he thinks he needs.

This guy is a switch hitter so he might be worth putting down in AAA to see if he's recovered from his right rotator cuff injury ... or to continue rehab ...
I can see the Nats picking this guy up ... he appears to fit?

Section 3, My Sofa said...

No he doesn't. He's not even Ryan Langerhans. And what does Abreau +$$ for Crowe, which the story you referenced said is a dead deal, have to do with DC?

Anonymous said...

No he doesn't. He's not even Ryan Langerhans.

Different types of players. My understanding is the deal for Crowe fell through which was separate than the Abreu deal. The Abreu deal is all about how much salary the Angels cover not about Crowe as compensation. The Abrue deal is still 50-50 the Crowe deal ran into a snag ...

I guess we'll see ... won't we? SteveM said the Nats almost consummated a deal for a right handed hitting outfielder ... they're still canvasing ... along with the Braves ... and they just released Jason Michaels.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, Brad Hawpe plus Xavier Nady would make a pretty good pair of hairy chested hitters sitting next to Davey Johnson? Not sure they would fit on the 25-man with Carroll, Bernadina, Lombardozzi, and DeRosa as the fielding bench. But maybe?

That might make Harper's transition to the majors later rather than sooner.

If I were the Nats I would go for it. I guess Hawpe can play first recovering from Tommy John's and Nady could manage in the outfield if necessary?

natsfan1a said...

Maybe Mark can comment on the Insider gear. It doesn't look to me like the stuff that was in the shop he set up back in the day. (I bought a t-shirt back then.) If memory serves, a number of those items had catchy slogans, and the logo looked different.

Young Pitchers said...

Section 3, My Sofa,

I love it, really like how the handle falls 'naturally' right into your fingers and stay there relaxed, and feel no difference swinging the bat (is that good or bad? haha), but my kids hate it but again they're 7 & 6 so what do they know about gripping a bat!

not sure what prohitter is. sorry.

MicheleS said...

i had to put this quote from McCatty (see Kilgore's Article on MPHRod) it's great!

“You’ve got a guy in Henry that has a reputation,” McCatty said. “Guys know that he can fire one up and in or wherever. When it’s coming in 100 miles an hour, you’re going to be a little leery. Fear is always a good thing for a pitcher to have in a hitter. If a hitter doesn’t know where it’s going, or he’s not sure, I think that’s a real plus.”

Sunderland said...

As long as we're lobbing McCatty quotes about HRod - " “With his ability, if he does that, obviously his stuff is pretty frickin’ bueno.”
(from Kilgore@WaPo)

Rabbit said...

I hope 'Roche does well, but I'm betting when I go to an early April game he is on the bench nursing an injury.

natsfan1a said...

It is a nice quote, even if it does have a spelling fail (one that a spellchecker doesn't catch). ;-)

sjm308 said...

I am not trying to start an argument. After the mathmatical barrage on Werth's HR and then the 3rd catcher/emergency catcher I do not even want to start anything. But, there was a comment about a player being optioned not being able to play in ST games. How is it that Corey Brown keeps getting to play when he was cut early in ST? Was he not optioned? Just want to know, don't want to argue.

Go Nats!!

NatsLady said...

I don't think Corey Brown was optioned to a specific minor-league team (yet). He was assigned to minor-league camp.

Nats assign six to minor leagues: The Nationals sent Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Rafael Martin, Sandy Leon, Jarrett Hoffpauir, Corey Brown and Xavier Paul to minor-league camp on Monday.

He's not on the 40-man, so they don't have to option him.

NatsLady said...

Notice that Xavier Paul and Sandy Leon also played in the Tigers game yesterday, along with other assorted minor-leaguers. You don't have to worry about "options" until they are on the 40-man. You do, however, have to worry about the Rule 5 draft if you keep them in the minors too long.

Section 222 said...

I woke up to a beautiful sunny day and the ticker on the upper right hand corner of this blog reads "6". I refuse to let a certain relative of Phil Wood's sour and superior attitude ruin it, especially since I now know to preface all of his comments with AFAIK -- which makes him much less annoying.

Not Arguin' Either said...

sjm, anyone can play in spring training (aka exhibition) games. Doesn't matter if you are on the 40 man or not, if you are in ML camp or in minor league camp, assigned to a specific minor league team, etc. As long as you are under contract, you are eligible. Guys are commonly pulled from minor league camp, sometimes for road games, often for when more bodies are needed when there are split squad games.

NatsLady said...

On the option thing, make that AFAIK.

Feel Wood said...

But, there was a comment about a player being optioned not being able to play in ST games. How is it that Corey Brown keeps getting to play when he was cut early in ST? Was he not optioned? Just want to know, don't want to argue.

I think they can play whoever they want in ST games. Look at all the minor leaguers they throw out there in split squad games or road games where the big boys don't travel. I think the only provision is that the players have to be under contract, but I'm not even sure about that. The Yankees suited up Billy Crystal and let him take an AB in spring training a few years ago.

The rules are looser in spring training, because the games don't count. They are really just organized practice in front of a paid crowd.

Section 3, My Sofa said...

Young Pitchers, thanks for the recommendation.
ProHitter (TM) is that rubber thing you see players wearing over their thumb at bat. It's supposed to have a similar effect--put the bat into your fingers, away from the palm--and it provides some cushion on hits off the end or handle, too. Takes some getting used to.

Sunderland said...

Feel Wood, glad you remembered Billy Crystal. He did indeed sign a contract in order to play.

****
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees are ready to add a touch of Hollywood to their roster, announcing their plans to sign actor and comedian Billy Crystal to a one-day contract during Spring Training.
Crystal will sign the contract and work out with the Yankees at Legends Field on Wednesday, before playing in the club's game on against the Pirates on Thursday. Commissioner Bud Selig approved the Yankees' extension of a contract to Crystal.

"I've been waiting 50 years for this call," Crystal said. "I'm overwhelmed by the generosity of the Yankees and Commissioner Selig. I know this'll be tougher than the Broadway Softball League, but I'm looking forward to helping the younger players -- by the way, which is all of them."

Crystal, who turns 60 on Friday, will wear uniform No. 60 in the game.

Section 3, My Sofa said...

If I'm not mistaken, Crystal actually signed a one-day contract. I'm not sure how much he paid them.
That could work, though--sorta like buying a ticket for the Soyuz. Auction off one non-roster invitation to spring training.

Section 3, My Sofa said...

Yankees to sign comedian Crystal

fast eddie said...

During MLB's coverage of the Nats, they listed Michael Taylor as the second best OF prospect after Harper. That surprised me, since Eurey Perez, Destin Hood, Corey Brown and Goodwin have all gotten lots more ST playing time than Taylor.
Would the Nats' brain trust concur with MLB's assessment?

Les in NC said...

Sec 3, it looks like that story is from a few years ago....

NatsFanJim said...

Uh sorry. I have a difficult time getting excited about a lifetime .265 hitter ready to "Rock and Roll" especially when his history tells us that he doesnt "rock and roll" until after the All Star break. Yawn .... enjoy your ridiculous contract, Adam, it's a gift from heaven.

Theophilus said...

I think the Nats' brass is auto-defibrillating on Taylor. He has been officially anointed the "CF of the future." Perez is trade bait, Brown is a possible 2013 place-holder, and Goodwin is "God's will be done."

Theophilus said...

Fast Eddie almost mention Destin Hood. I think (A) Hood is probably Michael Burgess redux; (B) in any event, most likely a corner outfielder w/ steeper obstacles between him and the majors. He signed w/ Nats over the Univ. of Nick Saban and seems to be slow in making progress, with little of the power we were led to expect. Nats "sources" have occasionally complained about Bernadina's lack of baseball instincts, as a late-comer to the game, and Hood's lagardly-ness makes me wonder if he is in the same boat.

Theophilus said...

"also mentioned"

Section 3, My Sofa said...

Site's back up! Maybe we need a back channel.

Les, yes, that's when it happened, 2008.

NatsLady said...

Explanation of options vs. assignment to minor-league.

MLB transactions

http://www.purplerow.com/2009/2/12/756928/mlb-transactions-part-two

fast eddie said...

Theophilus:
So, if Harper ends up in CF, is Taylor our next-best prospect as a corner OF?

Unkyd said...

NatsFanJim said...
Uh sorry. I have a difficult time getting excited about a lifetime .265 hitter ready to "Rock and Roll" especially when his history tells us that he doesnt "rock and roll" until after the All Star break. Yawn .... enjoy your ridiculous contract, Adam, it's a gift from heaven.
-----------------------
That's the Spirit, Jimmy!!!

Post a Comment