BALTIMORE -- Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche was not in Sunday's lineup against the Orioles because of an ailing left shoulder. In fact, LaRoche plans to get a second opinion on Monday to make sure that everything is OK with the shoulder.
During Spring Training, LaRoche was diagnosed with a torn labrum, and he's beginning to feel that the shoulder is hurting his swing. In 43 games, LaRoche is hitting .172 with three home runs and 15 RBIs.
While the shoulder doesn't hurt when he swings the bat, LaRoche feels it is weak, and the reason he cannot generate much power. The only time his shoulder hurts is when he throws the baseball. LaRoche has been told that he could play the entire season with the injury.
"It has been frustrating for me," LaRoche said. "It has been kind of a nagging thing. It doesn't necessarily hurt when I swing, but I'm [leaning toward thinking that it is hurting my swing]. I've got to think something is going on. Maybe not. I'll be able to give it a day and rest it a little more. I'll get another opinion and see if there is anything new."
While he is having a subpar year at the plate, LaRoche is clearly the best defensive first baseman the Nationals have ever had. His great range and scoops on throws are two reasons the club ranks eighth in the National League in defense fielding percentage.
However, LaRoche wonders if he's hurting the team by continuing to play with the sore shoulder.
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
"At some point, I have to weigh it to myself and say, 'Am I doing more harm than good if I'm not right at the plate?' If it's mechanics or a slump, I know I can handle it, because I know I can come out of it," LaRoche said. "But when I go this long and have the same results ... I'm not helping us like I should be, offensively.
"Defensively, I'm helping. I love saving these guys runs. Best-case scenario, we get it ironed out real quick, get back out there and put this in the past."
In LaRoche's absence, Michael Morse is playing first base against the Orioles.
Kimball regroups after rough outing
BALTIMORE -- Reliever Cole Kimball had his worst outing of the season in Saturday's 8-3 loss to the Orioles. Kimball pitched one inning and allowed two runs on four hits.
Kimball blamed himself for the subpar outing. He said he threw too many off-speed pitches and threw the ball on the outside part of the plate too often. Instead, he should have thrown more fastballs and pitched inside to the hitters.
For example, in the seventh inning, Kimball threw a 3-2 slider to Nick Markakis, who ended up with an RBI single. The slider is not a strikeout pitch for Kimball. He said he should have thrown a split-fingered fastball.
"I was off-speed happy yesterday. There were a couple of different times I put the ball in the wrong spot," Kimball said. "Yesterday, it wasn't a matter of throwing strikes, it was a matter of putting the strikes where they needed to be. I needed to be smarter with pitch selection and location."
Bernadina showing some fire after K's
BALTIMORE -- Nationals outfielder Roger Bernadina is usually mild-mannered on the field and in the clubhouse. Lately, however, he has been showing a hot temper after striking out. When he strikes out, he has been slamming his bat and helmet to the ground.
Asked where the temper came from, Bernadina said, "I'm so focused on my pitch. When I strike out, I get mad. I'm so locked in, that whenever you strike out, that's the reaction."
Entering Sunday's action, Bernadina was hitting .259 with one home run and seven RBIs. He is playing solid defense in center field. In order to get the batting average up, Bernadina needs to be more patient at the plate.
"I think I can do better," he said. "I've been out of my strike zone. In the beginning, I was more patient with the pitch I want to hit. ... I want to be in my hitting zone, be patient and do my thing."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.