Adam LaRoche (Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

When the Nationals first announced Friday night’s lineup earlier in the afternoon, slumping Adam LaRoche was on the bench and Chad Tracy was starting at first base against former friend and Phillies left-hander John Lannan. But within about 20 minutes, the Nationals changed course and LaRoche was starting at first and hitting sixth and Tracy was back on the bench because of a stiff neck.

Originally, Manager Davey Johnson wanted to give LaRoche a day off, which coupled with Thursday’s offday would have given the first baseman two straight days off. Johnson wanted LaRoche to rest because he is 0 for 15 in his career against Lannan. LaRoche called the change a “little misunderstanding,” while Tracy said his neck stings but he will be fine.

Johnson didn’t cite it as a reason, but LaRoche is also hitting .161 (10 for 62) with three home runs and three walks since the all-star break. LaRoche has, however, reached base safely in the past six games, with hits in the past five straight contests. “I think he’s been swinging alright,” Johnson said. “The results haven’t been there. I like his glove out there.”

Playing LaRoche, Johnson later reasoned, may not be bad idea after all. It may give LaRoche the chance to finally snap his streak against his former teammate. (Tracy, on the other hand, is 0 for 2 against Lannan and hitting .176 in 102 at-bats this season.)

“If you’re a .300 hitter and you’re 0 for 10 off this guy, you’re about ready to for 5 for 5 because water seeks its level,” Johnson said. “Stats you can use however any way you want. So I can build my case why I did something by the numbers for whichever side I want to be on. But basically it comes down to gut feeling.”


1. Denard Span, CF

2. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

3. Bryce Harper, LF

4. Jayson Werth, RF

5. Ian Desmond, SS

6. Adam LaRoche, 1B

7. Wilson Ramos, C

8. Anthony Rendon, 2B

9. Dan Haren, SP



1. Jimmy Rollins, SS

2. Michael Young, 1B

3. Chase Utley, 2B

4. Domonic Brown, LF

5. Darin Ruf, RF

6. Cody Ashe, 3B

7. Carlos Ruiz, C

8. Michael Martinez, CF

9. John Lannan, SP