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All hands on deck in this win

Apr 11, 2011, 1:49 AM EDT

Associated Press photo
Catcher Wilson Ramos shakes hands with first baseman Ivan Rodriguez.

NEW YORK — Adam LaRoche had every reason to be down in the dumps. The Nationals first baseman had been forced out of today’s game in the 11th inning after aggravating a groin injury sliding into second base. This, on top of the shoulder tear LaRoche is attempting to play through.

Though he’s admittedly frustrated these nagging injuries turned him into a spectator at the end of the wildest game of the Nationals’ young season — a 7-3, extra-inning victory over the Mets that seemingly featured it all — LaRoche couldn’t help but smile about the manner in which his new team is going about its business.

“This group of guys has a chance to be something special,” he said. “You can see it in here when guys show up. You can see it after a loss when everybody’s patting each other on the back and pulling for each other the next day.”

And you could see it during this all-hands-on-deck win, one that required every player on the Nationals’ bench to contribute, pitcher Jordan Zimmermann to pinch-hit and drop a sacrifice bunt, future Hall-of-Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez to finish out the game at first base and No. 3 and No. 4 hitters Ryan Zimmerman and LaRoche to watch from the dugout due to injury.

“Shows a lot about this team and the direction we’re going in,” said right-hander Jason Marquis, who struck out nine batters over six superb innings to keep his team in the game.
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  1. Kevin Rusch, Section406 - Apr 11, 2011 at 2:23 AM

    Suppose LaRoche goes on the DL to get his shoulder fixed. Do you move pudge to 1b and call up Flores, or do you call up Marrerro to play 1b?And since it's rather likely Zimm will end up on the DL for a few weeks, what should be done there?

  2. SonnyG10 - Apr 11, 2011 at 2:31 AM

    I think LaRoche will try to play through the sore shoulder if at all possible, but if he can't and goes on the DL, I would like to see Marrerro called up to play first and see what he can do. Our utility infielders can cover Zimmerman if he's out a short while.

  3. Jaxpo Nat - Apr 11, 2011 at 3:02 AM

    If Zim gets DL'd, my guess is Cora and/or Hairston play 3rd and Bixler gets called up as a reserve IF.

  4. A DC Wonk - Apr 11, 2011 at 3:29 AM

    changing the subject — has Harper played his second game yet?

  5. Sam - Apr 11, 2011 at 5:53 AM

    I was hypothesizing on this the other day. IF LaRoche goes on the DL (and we can only hope that he doesn't), I think the first move the FO makes is to call up Bernadina to play LF. Morse shifts to 1B.However, I would very much like to see Marrero get the call for a couple of weeks.Of course, this is all speculative discussion. Let's hope LaRoche doesn't need to spend any time on the DL.

  6. Souldrummer - Apr 11, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    @SamMarrero's a slow starter and he's struggling at AAA. Just like Morse's spring is proving to be a bit of a mirage, so is Marrero's. He's currently 2-16 for the Chiefs with a .125/.263/.188/.451 line. I realize his defense has improved, and he had a solid spring at the dish, but the move is what Sam said. Bring up Bernadina who can be competent in left field. Shift Morse to first.I think at this stage you put LaRoche on the DL, though. Nagging injuries for our veterans are not worth it on this young team. When the veterans get hurt, sit them down and give younger players an opportunity to earn playing time and improve their stock in the organization.

  7. Anonymous - Apr 11, 2011 at 10:28 AM

    Harper is currently hitting .267 after 4 games. He is 4 for 15. All singles, with 4 ribbies and 4 k's

  8. Big Cat - Apr 11, 2011 at 10:44 AM

    Jeez…..9 games in and Zim is down and possibly Laroche. AND…the dreaded Phillies coming to town. Pitching and defense boys, pitching and defense

  9. Anonymous - Apr 11, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    All of the Morse men from last year are strangely quiet. Is there a chance Riggleman was right that he's not ready for a full-time role yet? Oh no…I forgot…Riggleman knows nothing about this sport…not as much as anonymous posters like me. You see, I'm anonymous so when I'm right ALL of us anonymous posters can claim to be right!

  10. Bill - Apr 11, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    The bigger problem if those two get injured is replacing them in the batting order. There are various utility guys who can play 1b and 3b but who will replace Zim's bat? That's where bringing up Marrero is intriguing, and also where bringing up Bernadina (to replace Morse if he moves to 1b for LaRoche) would be interesting if Bernadina could figure out how to hit.

  11. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 11, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    Big Cat…. It's not the "dreaded Phillies" team coming to town I hate. It's the "dreaded Phillies fans" coming to town that I despise. We need to find a way to condemn Stan Kasten to a section of the ball park completely filled with Phillies fans with him decked out in Nats garb.

  12. CapPeterson - Apr 11, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    Just as all of the anonymous Morse detractors were strangely quiet during spring training. Morse is obviously pressing now, but there seems to be nothing wrong with him physically and no reason to think he won't snap out of it. Concept of a slump familiar to you? Rizzo clearly thought enough of Morse to trade away Willingham and give Morse a chance this year to establish himself. But this is the year for Morse, Bernie, etc. to prove themselves as the OF will become more crowded when Senor Oppo Boppo makes it to the Bigs.

  13. Doc - Apr 11, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    A 39 year old catcher playing 1st base, for one of the few times in his career, a PHing pitcher laying down a perfect bunt, a substitute LF hitting a 3R HR. Perfect baseball!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Gooooooooooooooo Nats!!!!!

  14. Doc - Apr 11, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    Mark, that picture of Pudge and Ramos shaking hands is one of your all-time great photos!Of all the photos that you could have snapped after the victory, that one has drama and grace written all over it. Truly great shot!!

  15. Joe Seamhead - Apr 11, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    I'll pipe up on Morse. He's in a slump.He's a streak hitter and he's in a bad streak right now.He'll come alive again.Yesterday's last AB was about as ugly as I've seen from a non-pitcher on a MLB level. Most good high school coaches will strangle a batter for swinging at a first pitch curve.I think when Werth and Morse awaken this lineup is going to be pretty tough on most opposing pitchers. Unfortunately, they're both pretty tough on our pitchers right now.As to Riggleman, I hope that he makes all of us naysayers look like morons.

  16. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 11, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    The one thing I've been chanting all week is "barrel it up!". This needs to be the entire lineup's mantra. Please Rick Eckstein… please get all hitters to think this constantly. "Barrel It Up!!"

  17. Big Cat - Apr 11, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    I was the one who questioned whether Morse was really a big league hitter. I brought up his 10 years in the minor leagues and that perhaps last year was fools gold. And yes, his last at bat yesterday was not worthy of a 9th grader. However, he goes the opposite way so well, and with power, that I think you gotta stick with him

  18. Mark Zuckerman - Apr 11, 2011 at 1:13 PM

    Doc said…Mark, that picture of Pudge and Ramos shaking hands is one of your all-time great photos! Of all the photos that you could have snapped after the victory, that one has drama and grace written all over it. Truly great shot!!Thanks, but I didn't take that photo. Look at the caption: Associated Press. Since the site is now owned by CSN, and since CSN subscribes to various wire services, I'm able to use professional photos this season instead of taking my own. That's the kind of shot I'd never be able to take myself, because I need to be in the press box at the end of the game.

  19. Joe Seamhead - Apr 11, 2011 at 1:14 PM

    Changing gears here, but Mark Z, what's the word on Roger Bernadina? He's listed as on bereavement leave on the Chiefs roster, yet he doesn't even have a number assigned. I can't help but wonder what's with that?

  20. fpcsteve - Apr 11, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    The point I take away from this article is that the members of this team like each other and play hard for each other. They're willing to sacrifice and pick each other up. That matters over the course of a long season. And regarding Morse, he probably isn't as good as his supoorters think he is and not as bad as his detractors are claiming. As usual, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. It seems likely he will come around and be productive this year.

  21. Mark Zuckerman - Apr 11, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    Joe Seamhead: Bernadina had to leave the Chiefs to deal with a personal family issue before their season began. He's expected to rejoin them soon.

  22. Anonymous - Apr 11, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    Hope that is really what it is about Roger, cause I think he got a raw deal being sent to the minors

  23. A DC Wonk - Apr 11, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    Approx fifty years ago, on June 1, 1951, a rookie named Willie Mays, batting third for the Giants, had yet another 0-for-5 game, dropping his batting average to a minuscule .038Complaining about the batting thus far, in the first half of April, of Morse, Pudge, etc., is really silly. Lots of good players don't start off well, particularly when playing too many games in 40-something degree weather after two months in Florida.Mays went on to win

  24. jd - Apr 11, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    There is nothing wrong with Morse; you can see he is trying to hit 5 run home runs each at bat because he is pressing. If Zim and LaRoche have to go on the DL Morse's bat is critical; he'll be fine as will Werth.

  25. Theophilus - Apr 11, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    Too much worrying about Morse, and too soon to panic about Zimmerman and LaRoche. The Nats have won four of the six games they held the opposition to three runs or less. As Earl Weaver said, "Nobody likes to hear it, because it's dull, but the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching." The Nats' bullpen has been as good as any in baseball. Now, if we could get seven innings out of a couple of starters, they could continue to dominate. And the team would survive very nicely until Morse gets untracked and everyone important gets healthy.On another subject, I complained a couple of months ago about their inability to bunt. Has anybody missed a bunt this season? I don't recall any (conceding the possibility of one I didn't see). Now how did that happen? Change of coaches? Coaching technique or emphasis? Roster turnover? Whatever, it has made an enormous difference.

  26. Jaxpo Nat - Apr 11, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    I see a real issue with LaRoche. I have read that his shoulder issue is a "slight labral tear." If this is the case, it is not something that is going to go away without surgery. Evan a stint on the DL will not "get it right." Without surgery it will at best stay the same and probably slowly get worse. Labral tears don't just get better without surgical intervention, as I understand it. I think this is a much bigger issue than it is being made out to be… possibly even season-threatening.

  27. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 11, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    Go back to my early Spring Training posts and you'll see my reports on the daily emphasis on bunting for EVERYONE including working the suicide squeeze.Eckstein worked them extensively on this.

  28. Marty - Apr 11, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    Looking over the Syracuse roster (http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?t=t_ros&cid=552) it shows Bernadina's status as "Bereavement." Anyone know anything about that?

  29. Peyton Dowdy - Apr 11, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    Adrian Gonzalez played almost the entire season last year with the same injury LaRoche has and he was just fine. While I'm sure it is a bit irritating for Adam, due to the fact that he plays 1st and not a position that demands a lot of hard throws I would expect him to be able to keep playing. Zimmerman should be the bigger concern right now.

  30. Tim - Apr 11, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    If Zim or LaRoche goes on the DL, I'm not sure we need to call up another position player. I realize it would leave the bench shorthanded, but I think we'd be better off calling up another reliever since Broderick's out of options, and the brain trust wants to keep him with the big club.I think Zim's more apt to go on the DL than LaRoche. Oblique strains take a long time to heal and can linger all season if not taken care of properly.

  31. erocks33 - Apr 11, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    .132/.175/.132 — Carl Crawford.135/.154/.270 — Chone Figgins.143/.225/.229 — Albert Pujols.143/.184/.257 — James Loney.148/.395/.222 — Kevin Youkilis.156/.229/.281 — Jacoby Ellsbury.158/.200/.316 — Dan Uggla.167/.265/.267 — Brett Gardner.189/.211/.432 — Brian Roberts.189/.211/.459 — Adrian Beltre.200/.263/.286 — Shin-Soo Choo.200/.243/.343 — Kelly Johnson.206/.300/.235 — Derek Jeter.207/.281/.310 — Hanley RamirezEVERYONE goes through slumps at some time each season. Give Morse and Werth a little slack, jeez! Or would you sit most of the above players down because they're not hitting either?The main concern for me right now is the health of Zim and LaRoche. If both can't play against the Phillies, then I don't want to even think what kind of lineup Riggs will trot out there.

  32. Steve M. - Apr 11, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    Nice, I can agree with JD on this one. Morse is trying to hit HRs and the 500 foot variety. He drops that back leg and just doesn't look loose in there.I think Morse will come around and he isn't the biggest issue on the team as you have Zimmerman and LaRoche injured.

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