CINCINNATI -- Though he's being held out of the Nationals' lineup for the second straight day, Adam LaRoche said his injured back is feeling "a lot better" and that he fully expects to play Tuesday when the Nats return home to face the White Sox.
"I would sure hope so," the veteran first baseman said. "I'll just keep doing the same thing. Something's been working."
LaRoche has been dealing with back pain since Wednesday night, when he played all nine innings on a 45-degree night in Washington. The condition worsened after the club arrived in Cincinnati for this weekend series, to the point where he had to come out of Friday night's game in the seventh inning.
After receiving treatment and getting a good night's sleep, LaRoche's condition is noticeably improved today.
"I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up," he said. "At some point in the middle of the night, it finally released. Now it's back to being just sore, instead of locked up to where I couldn't even tie my shoes. Man, that was good. I got out of bed fully expecting to fall down. I got up, moved around and was like: 'Gol-ly! It's like night and day.' That was very promising."
LaRoche felt strong enough to try to convince Davey Johnson he could play in today's series finale against the Reds, but the Nationals manager wouldn't acquiesce, opting to sit his starting first baseman one more day and have Chad Tracy take his place.
After posting career-best numbers last season and winning both the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards at his position, LaRoche has opened this year in an 0-for-13 funk, though he insists the back injury didn't affect his swing until his final at-bat on Friday.