The Nationals optioned first baseman/outfielder Tyler Moore to Class AAA Syracuse after Wednesday’s 3-2 victory over the Dodgers, clearing a roster spot for Doug Fister while allowing them to carry three catchers.
With Moore in the minors, the Nationals will use Kevin Frandsen as their primary backup to first baseman to Adam LaRoche, who for the past week has played through a quad injury. The Nationals kept Sandy Leon on their roster so they can freely use catcher Wilson Ramos, who returned from the disabled list Wednesday, as a designated hitter in Oakland.
The Nationals, though, may also want to use LaRoche as their designated hitter. The Nationals need LaRoche’s bat in their lineup — his .427 on-base percentage leads the Nationals, and his .514 slugging percentage and 21 RBI rank second on the team.
LaRoche continued his torrid hitting Wednesday, going 1 for 3 with a two-run single off the top of the right field wall. LaRoche could only manage a single because he jogged to first base on the tender quad, which he hurt April 29 in Houston.
“It’s been staying pretty steady for about the past week,” LaRoche said of the injury. “I’m treating it, doing everything we can. It feels better one day, then kind of goes back to the way it felt at the beginning. Just keep nursing it, and hope that I can pull through it without going on the DL. That’s the goal.”
“The way it’s going now, it’s really like picking a scab any time I go out there,” LaRoche added. “We’ll get it better for one or two days, then I’ll have to run a bunch and fire it back up. The hope is that I get a few days with not a lot of activity on it, not have to run a ton on the bases and maybe get this thing to dissolve out of there.”
The quad has affected LaRoche on the bases most, but it has also robbed him of defensive range. Wednesday, a hard grounder scooted under his glove in the first inning for a single. LaRoche said he typically could make that play.
“That’s another frustrating part there,” LaRoche said. “It obviously hinders me on the bases, but it’s tough to move defensively, too. I don’t have the range that I normally would. Getting back to the bag on routine grounders, it takes a toll on you. But what can you do? Wrap it up and keep treating it.”
Manager Matt Williams said if the Nationals had been at full strength, he may be more apt to give LaRoche more days off. But with Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper out of the Nationals’ lineup, Williams feels like they need LaRoche’s scorching bat. Williams has been pulling LaRoche from the bases late in games.
“I monitor him every day,” Williams said. “We have a nice little chat every single day about how he’s feeling. The fact that he’s telling me it’s getting a little better is good. Looking at the American League city, we may be able to give him a little bit more rest as well. But it’s not something that’s going to cure itself in two days, either.”
LaRoche spoke with Williams about the possibility of DHing in Oakland. While it would give his quad more rest, LaRoche worried it may also cause his quad to stiffen in the middle of games, thereby increasing his risk of doing further damage.
“Again, I don’t know,” LaRoche said. “If I’m sitting on it, does it get tighter? Being out there and moving around all game is keeping it loose. We may try it out and see what happens.”
Frandsen has started 10 games for the Nationals in left field, mostly in place of Harper. He has not played first for the Nationals, but last year he started 35 games at first base for the Phillies.