First baseman Adam LaRoche returned to the Nationals lineup Wednesday after he sat out Tuesday’s loss with stiffness in his lower back. The ailment, which LaRoche has dealt with off and on for years, surfaced Sunday night during the Nationals’ bus trip from Washington to Philadelphia. After undergoing treatment and resting, LaRoche again feels 100 percent.”
“I’d say it’s better than it was yesterday,” LaRoche said. “Better than it was the day before. I felt it for a couple days, just a little bit of stiffness. And then the bus ride just got me. I can loosen it up and it feels good. But when I stand around, like the other day, by about the fourth or fifth inning … then I woke up yesterday morning and it was pretty stiff. But I felt better waking up this morning.”
LaRoche has dealt with the issue before. Between innings, he may head to the cage and swing or simply walk around to keep his back from stiffening up. He does not think the problem will linger.
“I hope not,” LaRoche said. “I’ve had it before and I’ve been able to get treatments and exercises to get back to where I still feel it for a little while, but not anything that really affects me playing.”
After Wednesday night’s game, the Nationals will fly to Seattle, a flight that lasts longer than six hours. LaRoche does not expect the travel to affect his back, because on a plane, unlike a bus, he can recline.
“It’s not something where if I go play it can get much worse,” LaRoche said. “I know that from experience. I don’t have any fear that I’m going to go out there and do some damage. As of right now, it’s similar to what I’ve dealt with all these years.”
LaRoche, 34, is in the middle of one of his best seasons, hitting .266/.372/.454 with 19 homers and 69 RBI. He has also been durable, playing every inning of every game in August before he sat out Wednesday.
“He’s held up well,” Manager Matt Williams said. “We’ve tried to give him some days, certainly the off days mixed in there. He’s been producing. He’s playing well. His legs feel good. The little back issue is no huge deal. He’s had that before. Every once in a while, it just gets a little cranky.”