04/10/2013 12:37 AM ET
Interleague Play comes early for Nationals
By Jeff Seidel / Special to MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are jumping into Interleague Play early this season, meeting the White Sox in just their third series of 2013. In fact, this is the earliest that an American League team has ever played at Nationals Park.
Interleague Play usually occurs for the first time toward the middle of the season, but it will now take place on a regular basis throughout the year.
"It's a little different, but I like it better," said third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. "Having those two weeks or whatever it was where you just have to play nothing but American League teams, it's kind of nice to just kind of have them sprinkled in there."
Manager Davey Johnson kind of shrugged off the change in schedule, saying there isn't much he could do about it.
"I don't have any control over that," Johnson said. "But it does seem [a little] strange [so early]."
Shortstop Ian Desmond agreed, saying, "It doesn't matter. It's still baseball. We get to play by our rules."
Werth passes 500 RBIs for career
WASHINGTON -- Jayson Werth reached and passed the 500-RBI mark on Tuesday, driving in three runs in the Nationals' 8-7 victory over the White Sox.
He went into the game with 499; his two-run homer in the sixth off Jake Peavy gave the Nats the lead for good.
Werth added an RBI single to push his total to 502.
"Most of the spring, he was feeling really good," manager Davey Johnson said. "Sometimes you go through a game here or there, but obviously his wrist, [which he injured last year], isn't bothering him, because he's crushing the ball, and that's a good sign. He's a tough out."
Nationals reunited with former teammate Dunn
WASHINGTON -- Former Nationals player Adam Dunn was back in town on Tuesday, when his White Sox started a three-game Interleague series with the Nationals, and his old teammates were glad to see him.
Dunn was not in the starting lineup for the series opener, likely because Washington sent out left-hander Gio Gonzalez. The Nationals' former first baseman has been with the White Sox since 2010 after spending two years in Washington. But after signing his free-agent deal with Chicago, the normally strong hitter endured a disappointing 2011, batting just .159 with 11 homers and 42 RBIs.
He rebounded in a big way in 2012, finishing with 41 homers and 96 RBIs despite batting only .204. He earned an All-Star Game trip and was named the American League Comeback Player of the Year, and his former teammates were very happy to see that.
"Obviously, Adam works hard and had some good years and has had a lot of good years in baseball," said third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. "So for him to kind of go through a season like that is tough to watch, and it's tough to have to think about what he's going through knowing what kind of person he is and how much pride he takes in his work."
Shortstop Ian Desmond said that Dunn's actions as he went through the struggles of 2011 showed him something and drove home some of the points the veteran taught him while they were teammates.
"The way he handled himself, going through those struggles -- that was unbelievable," Desmond said. "He had a terrible time. His fans were booing him. He obviously wasn't playing up to his potential. He was going through some things, and he kept his head up and he kept running out there and playing. That's what being a professional is all about."
LaRoche back in action with a bang
WASHINGTON -- First baseman Adam LaRoche returned to the lineup on Tuesday after missing the previous two games because of a strained muscle in his mid-back. He returned in style, going 2-for-4 with two homers and three RBIs in the Nationals' 8-7 win over the White Sox.
He had gone 0-for-15 before hitting the homers.
"He actually told me he felt better Sunday," manager Davey Johnson said before the game. "He felt like they got the cramp out of there. He came and got treatment yesterday and came in and saw me today when he got here, said he felt good to go."
The effort boosted LaRoche's season average to .118.
"To come back and get a couple [tonight] was nice," LaRoche said afterward.
Haren not dwelling on subpar season debut
WASHINGTON -- Dan Haren's not worrying about the troubles of his first start. In fact, the right-hander's more concerned about how to do better the next time out -- which will be on Thursday against the White Sox.
The Reds roughed up Haren for six runs and nine hits in just four innings of work last Friday in a 15-0 rout. Haren gave up four home runs in those four innings.
Haren said before Tuesday's series opener with the White Sox that he's fine health-wise and looking forward.
"I've pitched for 10 years; I've had my share of really bad games," Haren said. "I think how you bounce back is more important than that actual game. Every bad game teaches you a lesson about something."
Kurt Suzuki caught Haren in that game, and the veteran isn't too worried either.
"It was [just] a first start; it was obviously not one that we both would have liked," Suzuki said. "We've just got to get back on the horse again. There's no real need to push the panic button over one start. He's been through it all."
That's what Haren said before Tuesday's game. It's just one time, and he prefers to figure out what went wrong and make it better.
"You have just got to learn from it and move on," he said. "No use dwelling on it."
• Johnson said that right-hander Rafael Soriano might have "tweaked" his leg a bit on Saturday, when he made a break for home after his wild pitch, but that it's not an issue.
• Zimmerman has played in 996 Major League games. As long as there's no injuries or weather problems, he will reach No. 1,000 on Friday, vs. the Braves.
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.