WASHINGTON -- Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is showing signs of life at the plate. In his three games against the Pirates over the weekend, LaRoche was 4-for-7 (.571) with five walks.
It helped that he had a one-hour conversation with former Braves teammate Chipper Jones and Nationals hitting coach Rick Eckstein early last week. Eckstein and Jones came to the conclusion that LaRoche's back side -- shoulder and hand -- was dropping.
"Personally, I've come a long way from a week ago. We are on the right track, so we are getting closer," said LaRoche, who saw his batting average go from 136 to .168 this past weekend. "Between Chip and Eck and the three of us sitting down, we dissected the swing and they made some great points. We were trying to compare notes."
Davey: Harper won't be disciplined for ump dispute
WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson announced Tuesday that left fielder Bryce Harper will not be fined nor suspended from Major League Baseball for arguing with third-base umpire John Hirschbeck on Sunday.
"That was good news," Johnson said. "[The ejection] turned out good, because I wanted to give [Harper] the day off. The umpire helped out there. [Harper] got a day off. With the day off [Monday], he had two days off, so he should be ready to go for quite a while."
Harper was ejected in the first inning after striking out against the Pirates in a 6-2 Nationals victory at PNC Park on Sunday afternoon.
With two outs, Harper worked the count to 2-2 against left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, who threw a curveball to Harper. It looked like Harper didn't swing at the pitch, but Hirschbeck ruled that he did, ending the inning. A few seconds later, Harper was ejected by Hirschbeck after throwing his arms up in the air. Harper then slammed his bat down and left the game without further incident.
Hirschbeck told MLB.com after the game that he felt Harper was showing him up and gave him three warnings to stop.
On Tuesday, Harper said he was happy that he would not face any punishment.
"That's good. I'm glad I don't have to pay $1,000," Harper said. "That another $1,000 in my pocket, so that's good. That's Major League Baseball's decision. I respect it, definitely. If I was to get fined, I would respect that, too."
Harper received a lot of attention for what happened Sunday, but he decided to not watch TV or read the papers on what was said about him.
"I didn't watch TV or anything," Harper said. "I really didn't follow up on that or really cared [to]. It's something that happened. It's in the past, it's a little step that I step over and start playing the ballgame."
Having two days off really helped Harper, who was dealing with a sore right side. Harper hurt the side last week while trying to catch a home run off the bat of Braves right-hander Tim Hudson.
Harper is currently 3-for-26 (.115) in his last eight games, and the injury has affected his swing, but he doesn't plan on taking another day off.
"I'm not going to give any excuses because my side hurts. I just try to go up there, do well, try to square things up and try to do the best that I can for my team," Harper said.
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.