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Roark will start finale, injury sidelines LaRoche

Sep 28, 2013, 7:44 PM EDT

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Updated at 11:35 p.m.

PHOENIX — Gio Gonzalez had decided to start the Nationals’ season finale. But then once they won Saturday night’s game to ensure Davey Johnson would finish at least 300 games over the .500 mark for his career, the departing manager decided to hand the ball to Tanner Roark after all.

Gonzalez was lined up all along to pitch on normal rest, but had assumed his season was over following his last start Tuesday in St. Louis, leaving Roark to pitch Game 162. Johnson, though, noted that he hoped to finish his career 300 games over the .500 mark. In order to accomplish that, the Nationals needed to win one of their final two games at Chase Field.

Though he admittedly had already made the mental transition to offseason mode, Gonzalez talked to Johnson this weekend and decided to make one last start for his departing manager.

“I talked to Davey a little bit about it and said I think it would be nice for my body to recover and try to get ready for next year mentally,” Gonzalez said Saturday afternoon. “But it’s nice when you have the skip come up to you and say: ‘It would be truly an honor, it would nice if you went out there and pitched, not only for yourself but for me, too.’ You take that to heart. And you understand it, knowing this would be Davey’s last game. To be the last starting pitcher for him, it’s something that I can always remember.”

Gonzalez also would be shooting for a couple of statistical milestones. He needs 4 1/3 more innings to reach 200 for the third time in his career. He needs eight strikeouts to reach 200 for the second straight year.

But after the Nationals wrapped up a 2-0 victory, leaving Johnson’s career record at 1,372-1,070, the manager announced Roark will start Sunday’s game, along with backups and rookies at almost every position.

Whether Gonzalez’s season is over or not, it does appears Adam LaRoche’s is. The veteran first baseman was supposed to be in Saturday night’s lineup but was scratched with left biceps tendinitis. It’s not a serious injury, but it’s enough to keep LaRoche from playing in either of the Nationals’ final two games.

LaRoche said he first felt inflammation at the base of his left bicep, near the elbow, on Friday. The condition improved Saturday morning, but it got worse when he tried to take swings in the batting cage.

Doctors diagnosed the injury as biceps tendinitis and said it could have been caused by heavy lifting and carrying. LaRoche thinks it may have originated last weekend when he was carrying personal belongings out of his Washington home to ship back to his Kansas home for the offseason.

It’s a disappointing end to a disappointing season for the 33-year-old first baseman, who finishes with a .237 batting average, 20 homers, 62 RBI and a .735 OPS in 152 games.

“I would’ve liked to play these last two,” he said. “I fully planned on playing today. But I got treatment on it, tried to hit and it’s just not happening. So that’s that.”

  1. Sonny G 10 - Sep 29, 2013 at 12:57 AM

    Should have hired someone to carry things out. Good thing we weren’t counting on him for post season.

  2. dgourds - Sep 29, 2013 at 1:26 AM

    You know, it rubs me the wrong way that Davey would be so selfish to put a stupid, meaningless personal stat like 300 > .500 as a manager abovethe developmentof the team. Roark is, imo, the brightest partof this pretty disappointing season. He gives hope to our future pitching staff 1 through 5. He pitched really poorly his last time out, and you’d hate to have him end his amazing rookie year on that sour note and have him ruminate about it all season. Luckily, Davey got his all important stat, and Roark will get a chance to right the ship to end 2013. I really look forward to another manager next year. I hope Rizzo chooses wisely like they did in Boston. Go Nats in 2014!

  3. numbskull111 - Sep 29, 2013 at 8:19 AM

    Is it wrong….or “brilliant”?

    After getting eliminated from the post-season…the Nats had nothing to really play for (and that showed in St. Louis.) Davey letting them know his desire to finish his career at 300 over .500 gave them all something to hold onto and play for during this last series (and it is showing.)

    To me, the selfish one is Gio. He wants to rest up physically and mentally for next year by skipping out a day early?? Really? You have over four months to recover and rest, I don’t think one extra day is going to be the difference between a rested/healthy Gio in 2014 or not. When your future HOF manager, who led DC to its first post-season much earlier than expected, asks you to pitch one more time…..you do it…’nuff said.

    • dgourds - Sep 29, 2013 at 11:09 AM

      The Nats are playing for the future. 2013 is done. Davey is done. It didn’t work out this year. Move on, develop the team for next year. Gio is proven. No need to throw him another game in this disappointing season. Tanner has a lot to gain from a good performance to close his rookie year.

  4. janebeard - Sep 29, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    I’m in the camp, that it was brilliant to get them to play for something “meaningful.” I’m always sad on the last day of the regular season. But I’m hopeful. And sad as I am, I able tp speak and carry on with life in a way I couldn’t the morning after Game 5 last year. Sad but true. I wonder if last night was the last we’ll see Drew on the mound for us. I bet he gets moved in the off-season. I’ll be sad then, too.

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