• Update: 6:15 - Adam LaRoche has been placed on the 15-Day D.L.
So, though there were no reports on what was discovered during Adam LaRoche's latest trip to the doctor to have his shoulder examined, the "slightly" torn labrum in his left shoulder has him out of the lineup, and according to reports this afternoon, likely headed to the DL. How long will LaRoche be out? Will the torn labrum require surgery? All that's known right now is that the 31-year-old plus-defender won't be in Milwaukee tonight. Michael Morse is filling in at first for now, and as MLB.com's Bill Ladson (@washingnats) reported on Twitter, he's likely to get a shot there while LaRoche is sidelined. Morse won the left field job out of Spring Training, but the power display he put on this Spring hasn't translated to the regular season. Morse has a .267/.294/.356 line so far with three doubles and two HR's after 109 plate appearances, but he's got just 42 career games at first, 15 of them starts, and while LaRoche couldn't hit, or get much on his throws due to his injured shoulder, he's still played well defensively at first, and he's now being replaced by a "less accomplished defender"...
If Morse falters at first? Will Matt Stairs break out the glove again? Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez isn't a first baseman, he's worked out there, yes, in an attempt to find him some time once Wilson Ramos takes over more and more of the playing time. Chris Marrero, the Nats' '06 1st Round pick, is at Triple-A Syracuse this year after putting up a .294/.350/.450 line with 28 doubles and 18 HR's at Double-A last season. In 41 games and 174 plate appearances, the 22-year-old first baseman (he was drafted at 16-going-on-17), has a .283/.339/.409 line, but MLB.com's Mr. Ladson, again on Twitter, reported that the Nats specifically said, "As of right now, the #Nats are not planning to call up Chris Marrero."
When the season started it was clear that injuries to any of the starters would be an issue for the Nationals, who had no position players pushing for playing time at the Triple-A level (ed. note - "Q: What about, Jesus Flores? A: More continued rehab.") Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Adam LaRoche, Wilson Ramos/Pudge Rodriguez, Jayson Werth...if any of them missed significant time, the Nationals still didn't have the talent in the system to replace what they were expected to produce. Zimmerman's played just eight games this season and as well as Jerry Hairston, Jr. and Alex Cora have filled in at times, they're not Zimmerman.
Now LaRoche is out. First base is a particularly weak spot for the Nats. LaRoche, a consistent producer was being counted on to improve the team defensively and contribute the 25 HR's, 80-90+ RBI's he's managed to collect annually during his eight year career. To have Zimmerman and now LaRoche out of the lineup is particularly devastating. Rick Ankiel surprised some by winning the center field job out of Spring Training, but when he went down the Nats brought up Roger Bernadina, who's done well since being given another opportunity. The Nationals simply don't have a first baseman in the system who can produce what LaRoche was expected to. SB Nation Baseball Nation writer Rob Neyer suggested this morning in a post entitled, "Arizona Releases Russell Branyan, Who Deserves A Job", that the Nats might want to look at the recently released first base option, Russell Branyan. The Nats still don't know exactly how bad LaRoche's shoulder is, but they might not want to wait to find out.
Is LaRoche the last blow in what you thought was already a blown season? How would the infield and pitching react to a suddenly-LaRoche-less infield? Russell Branyan? Really? Are you remaining positive, after all the Nats are close to .500 with the problems they've already overcome? Here's hoping Marrero seizes the opportunity and forces his way up...Not holding my breath for that though, for the results on LaRoche, yes, breath held. How's your confidence holding up...See Poll Below to register your opinion...
• Late Note: The Washington Nationals reportedly sent RHP Brian Broderick back to St. Louis, or the Cardinals "accepted" him back as it was phrased in numerous Tweeted reports. The Rule 5 pick from the Cards' system surrendered 16 hits, three walks and nine earned runs in 12.1 IP after he impressed enough during Spring Training for the Nationals to consider keeping him on the roster. The 24-year-old right-hander was designated for assignment when the Nats brought reliever Cole Kimball up from Syracuse on 5/14.