Adam LaRoche is 0 for 13 with a walk and three Ks four games into the 2013 campaign. He's sitting today according to reporters out of Cincinnati this morning, after leaving last night's game with back stiffness that could cause him to miss Sunday afternoon's game as well. Coming off a .271/.343/.510, 35 double, 33 HR, +3.4 fWAR season in 2012, the Washington Nationals' 33-year-old first baseman and middle-of-the-order bat signed a 2-year/$24M dollar deal after exploring the free agent market and failing to find the multi-year deal he hoped was out there. As LaRoche explained to reporters, including the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, after agreeing to return to the nation's capital, the draft pick compensation tied to free agents under the new CBA hampered his ability to find the sort of contract he was after:
"'It didn’t make it easy. There’s no doubt,' LaRoche said. 'There were teams that came out and told us, ‘We would love to have to you, but we cannot give up this pick.’"
The decision to bring LaRoche back to the nation's capital left now-former Nats' slugger Michael Morse without a position, since Denard Span was acquired to play center, moving Bryce Harper to left with Jayson Werth in right and, as Nats' GM Mike Rizzo explained this winter, the team had, "an ample substitute in a more-controllable Tyler Moore," to back LaRoche up at first. Morse was eventually dealt to the Seattle Mariners in a three-team trade with the Oakland A's which brought back three pitching prospects including former Nats' draft pick A.J. Cole, who'd been dealt to the Athletics the previous winter in the trade for Gio Gonzalez. Cole effectively replaced Alex Meyer, (the right-hander dealt to Minnesota in the Span deal), in the Nats' system and the other pitchers acquired from the A's returned some of the depth to the organization after they'd traded major league-ready arms like Brad Peacock and Tom Milone the previous winter.
It's not Tyler Moore filling in for LaRoche this afternoon. Washington Nationals' manager Davey Johnson's lineup in the second game of three with the Cincinnati Reds has bench bat Chad Tracy at first base and hitting fifth in the lineup in place of LaRoche. The Washington Post's Mr. Kilgore quoted LaRoche explaining last night that his back has been bothering him since the second game of the season on Wednesday night in D.C. LaRoche received treatment before last night's game before deciding to sit down in the seventh. The Nationals' skipper said last night he would probably sit LaRoche today, and according to reports out of Great American Ballpark this afternoon, there's a possibility he'll rest tomorrow too to give him three straight days off with no game scheduled for Monday.
Here's today's LaRoche-less lineup as left-hander Ross Detwiler and the Nats take on the Reds:
Davey's Lineup, Sat at CIN/G5: Span cf, Werth rf, Harper lf, Zimmerman 3b, Tracy 1b, Desmond ss, Espinosa 2b, Ramos c, Detwiler lhp.— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) April 6, 2013
Here's what some reporters on the scene in D.C. had to say on Twitter after talking to LaRoche and Davey Johnson this morning:
LaRoche says no MRI planned. Hopes to play tomorrow.— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) April 6, 2013
Davey said it's a good possibility that he sits LaRoche tomorrow, too, so he can get 3 full days rest (w/offday on Monday).— Amanda Comak (@acomak) April 6, 2013
Here's the update on LaRoche, and lineups for Reds-Nats. wapo.st/Zn0eEm— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) April 6, 2013
Game Time 1:05 pm EST from Cincinnati.