Adam LaRoche out of today’s Nationals lineup with back stiffness, Chad Tracy in


(Jamie Sabau / Getty Images)

First baseman Adam LaRoche will miss at least today’s game with stiffness in his back, which forced him to leave Friday night’s 15-0 loss in the seventh inning. LaRoche hopes to return Sunday, but Manager Davey Johnson said he will likely rest LaRoche on Sunday, too, in order to give him three straight days of rest including Monday’s day off.

“That’s a good possibility,” Johnson said. “But knowing Adam, he’s going to come in and say, ‘I’m ready.’ I might have to” overrule him.

Chad Tracy will take LaRoche’s place today at both first base and hitting fifth against Reds right-hander Mike Leake. Johnson chose Tracy, a left-handed hitter, over right-handed Tyler Moore, at least for the day.

“If they come in and use left-handers later, I can switch,” Johnson said. “Either way I go, I’m pretty good.”

LaRoche first felt tightness in his mid-back Wednesday on a chilly night at Nationals Park. The cold weather, he said, played a “huge” factor in the stiffness. LaRoche has been taking muscle-relaxing pills and using hot and cold tubs to treat the pain.

“I don’t need it to be totally gone to play and be productive,” LaRoche said. “I just need it so I can move around a little bit. Right now, it’s tough to bend over and get back up.”

“I was hopeful for today,” LaRoche added. “I’m going to have to wait and see. I’m going to do everything I can do to get in there tomorrow. If I can’t be myself out there, then I’m not going to do that.”

The Nationals have not sent LaRoche for any additional tests, as both he and the team’s medical staff believe the tightness is representative of only a muscle issue. “That was the good news,” LaRoche said.

LaRoche was able to play through the tightness in his back Thursday and the start of Friday night’s game. He has gone 0 for 13 this season, but he has hit several balls hard and said the pain only affected him in his third at-bat Friday night.

“My last at-bat, I could actually feel it when I went to start to swing,” LaRoche said. “That’s when I said, ‘I’ve had enough.’ Up until then it was tight, and I could get on deck and loosen it up enough to be fine in the box.”

LaRoche has dealt with some lower back pain, resulting from a hip injury, for the past five seasons. He has learned how to eliminate those issues with a pregame regimen. His current ailment “is just different,” LaRoche said. “It won’t go away. It’s a different location.”

Here are the full lineups for today’s game, with Ross Detwiler making his season debut.

Nationals

1. Denard Span, CF

2. Jayson Werth, RF

3. Bryce Harper, LF

4. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

5. Chad Tracy, 1B

6. Ian Desmond, SS

7. Danny Espinosa, 2B

8. Wilson Ramos, C

9. Ross Detwiler, SP

Reds

1.Shin-Soo Choo, CF

2. Chris Heisey, LF

3. Joey Votto, 1B

4. Brandon Phillips, 2B

5. Jay Bruce, RF

6. Todd Frazier, 3B

7. Zack Cosart, SS

8. Devin Mesoraco, C

9. Mike Leake, SP

Adam Kilgore covers the Nationals for The Washington Post.
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Adam Kilgore · April 6, 2013