May 2011

Saturday’s lineups for Padres, Nationals

Padres
Patterson – RF
Bartlett – SS
Ludwick – LF
Hawpe – 1B
Headley – 3B
Tekotte – CF
Phillips – C
Forsythe – 2B
Stauffer – P

Nationals
Ankiel – CF
Desmond – SS
Werth – RF
Nix – LF
Morse – 1B
Espinosa – 2B
Rodriguez – C
Hairston – 3B
Zimmermann – P

Nats’ Hairston ejected from Friday’s game

During Friday’s 2-1 victory over the Padres, Nationals third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. was ejected in the bottom of the seventh inning for arguing with home-plate umpire Ed Hickox.

With Padres left-hander Clayton Richard on the mound and Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa on first base, Hairston called time out. Hickox declined, while Richard threw the pitch. Hairston quickly went back in the batter’s box and flied out to center fielder Cameron Maybin for the second out of the inning.

Instead of running to first base, Hairston argued with Hickox, claiming that Richard was quick pitching him and wasn’t giving him enough time to setup in the batter’s box.

Within seconds, Hickox ejected Hairston and almost hit manager Jim Riggleman in the face accidently as he was waving his arm to indicate that Hairston was out of the game. Hickox was not available for comment.

“I played with Clayton Richard and he quick pitches — big time,” Hairston said. “He held the ball and I stepped out. As soon as I stepped back in the box, he was coming. You just can’t do that. You have to let the hitter get set.

“Basically, I asked for help and when I asked for help, I got thrown out. I never cussed at the umpire or anything. I didn’t feel I needed to get thrown out there.”

Riggleman said he knew Hairston would be ejected because he still had the bat in his hand while he was arguing with Hickox.

“I love Jerry. He is a ball of fire,” Riggleman said. “I wanted to get there before he was ejected because when he didn’t run. He was going to get ejected.”

Nats’ Eckstein remains silent with media

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has instructed hitting coach Rick Eckstein not to talk to the media.

In the last week, members of the Washington media have attempted to talk to Eckstein about the team’s problems at the plate, but they have been turned down. Entering Friday’s action, the team is hitting .229, which ranks 29th in the Major Leagues.

According to people with knowledge of the situation, the reason for Eckstein’s silence is because Rizzo doesn’t want Eckstein to blame himself for the problems at the plate. Rizzo is one of Eckstein’s biggest supporters.

Rizzo also believes members of the media would not talk to Eckstein if the team was hitting well at the plate. Instead, they would talk only to the players.

Eckstein is considered one of the hardest working coaches in baseball. In fact, outfielder Jayson Werth said recently, “Ecky sleeps and drinks baseball.”

Before going on the disabled list because of a shoulder injury, first baseman Adam LaRoche said the team’s hitting woes were not Eckstein’s fault.

“It’s not easy for him at all. It might be harder on him than it is an individual hitter,” LaRoche said. “The entire team feels responsible. He has done everything he could possibility do to get guys on track. He spends more time watching video. He goes in the batter’s box to just to mimic player’s swings just to get a feeling in the batter’s box.”

It’s not known how long Eckstein will remain silent. Calls to Rizzo were not returned and Eckstein was not available for comment.

Eckstein has been Washington’s hitting coach since 2009. That year, Washington was tied for sixth in the National League with a .258 batting average.

Last year, the Nationals were tied for ninth in the NL with a .250 batting average.

Friday’s lineups for Padres, Nationals

Padres:
Denorfia – RF
Bartlett – SS
Ludwick – LF
Cantu – 1B
Maybin – CF
Headley – 3B
Johnson – C
Gonzalez – 2B
Richard – P

Nationals:
Bernadina – CF
Desmond – SS
Werth – RF
Morse – 1B
Ramos – C
Espinosa – 2B
Hairston – 3B
Bixler – LF
Lannan – P

Rangers have inquired about Nats’ Coffey

The Rangers have inquired about Nationals right-hander Todd Coffey, according to a baseball source.

Texas is looking for a setup man, but the two clubs are not in serious talks at the moment.

It’s not known whether the Nationals would trade Coffey. A text to general manager Mike Rizzo was not returned. The Nationals are need of offense, which is one of the worst in the National League. They have a .229 batting average.

Coffey, 30, is part of an excellent bullpen, which features Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard. Coffey is having one of his best season of his career. Entering Friday’s action against Padres, Coffey has allowed four earned runs in 19 innings.

Nats’ LaRoche has major shoulder issues

Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is in the DC area rehabbing his left shoulder. He is hoping that he can avoid surgery, but that may be hard to do.

Not only does he have a large tear in his labrum, LaRoche also has a small tear in his rotator cuff.

“That’s not what I wanted to hear,” LaRoche said via phone. “I wish it didn’t take me 43 games to figure out something was totally wrong.”

LaRoche said there is a deadline on when he will decide to quit rehabbing the shoulder and have surgery. He did not know the deadline date. LaRoche indicated that he did not want to miss the 2012 season because of the injury.

“I love playing and I want to be out there with the guys, but I’m not selfish enough to stick it out the whole year and potentially miss next year,” LaRoche said. “We are going to give [the rehab] a shot.

“Hopefully a miracle happens so we can get it playable. If not, I’m not going to milk it here and hope for the best. If this doesn’t work, I’m pretty sure I’ll make the decision to get it fixed.”

Right now, the game plan for LaRoche is to rehab the shoulder for two to three weeks without throwing a baseball or swinging a bat.

“[We are going to] really work on strengthening the rotator cuff and the smaller muscles in my shoulder in hopes that I can come back and have it right.”

During Spring Training, LaRoche was diagnosed with a torn labrum, and he’s began to feel this past week that the shoulder was hurting his swing. In 43 games, LaRoche was hitting .172 with three home runs and 15 RBIs.

While the shoulder didn’t hurt when he swung the bat, LaRoche felt it was weak, and the reason he could not generate much power.

The only time his shoulder was in pain was when he threw the baseball. LaRoche was told that he could play the entire season with the injury.

However, by last weekend, LaRoche wanted to get a second opinion on the shoulder and went to New York on Sunday night.

“I know my body well enough to know when I’m feeling good at the plate … and it was not there,” LaRoche said. “That’s the reason I went to New York. I wanted somebody to tell me, ‘Listen, your shoulder is fine. It should not be affecting your swing. Get back out there and play.’ Or ‘There are some Major issues.’ That’s all I wanted to confirm.”

It was confirmed that LaRoche has major issues in the shoulder.

LaRoche headed to disabled list

The Nationals have put first baseman Adam LaRoche on the 15-day disabled list because of a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

LaRoche was in New York getting a second opinion on the shoulder and will not rejoin the team in Milwaukee.

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.

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 fielding percentage.

With LaRoche on the DL, the Nationals plan to use Michael Morse at first base and activate outfielder Rick Ankiel, who is currently on a rehab assignment with Double A Harrisburg.

Morse will get another chance to show that he can play every day. He started the season as the Opening Day left fielder, but found himself on the bench after getting off to a slow start offensively and defensively. By late April, Morse was benched in favor of Laynce Nix.

Ankiel, who hurt his wrist trying to catch a fly ball against the Phillies in early May, is hitting .221 with one home run and seven RBIs, but has been outstanding on defense.

Once he is ready to play in the big leagues, it’s not known what Ankiel’s role will be. He could be on the bench because Nix is swinging a hot bat Roger Bernadina is the only legitimate leadoff hitter in the entire organization.

Showalter impressed with Nats’ Ramos

During the three-game series against the Orioles, Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos went 3-for-10 [.300] with a homer, three RBIs and five runs scored.

Ramos’ best game in the series came Friday during Washington’s 17-5 victory over Baltimore. He went 3-for-4 and was a double short of the cycle.

After Sunday’s 2-1 victory over the Nationals, Orioles manager Buck Showalter came away impressed by what he saw from Ramos.

“I love that Ramos kid,” Showalter said. “That’s about as good a young player as I’ve seen this year. The kid they got from Minnesota. He’s really impressive.”

Ramos is currently splitting time with Ivan Rodriguez behind the plate. However, Ramos is expected to be the everyday catcher after the All-Star break.

Nats’ Riggleman ejected from Sunday’s game

Nationals manager Jim Riggleman was ejected in the first inning of Sunday’s game against the Orioles.

On the second pitch of the game, it appeared that outfielder Roger Bernadina bunted for a base hit, but home plate umpire Todd Tichneor called Bernadina out for stepping out of the batter’s box while trying to bunt.

At first, Riggleman thought Bernadina was called out for running out of the baseline. A few seconds later, Riggleman learned that Bernadina stepped on home plate while he was bunting.

Riggleman argued for several minutes with Tichneor before the skipper was ejected. It marked the second time Riggleman was tossed from a game this season. Riggleman looked at the video later and realized that Tichneor was right. Bernadina foot was on home plate while trying to bunt.

“It’s like most calls: [The umpires are right] and we are wrong,” Riggleman said. “I didn’t even have an argument. I was just irritated the call was made. … But it’s a call you just never see get made. He got the call right. I don’t know what else I could say.”

LaRoche to get second opinion on shoulder

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 Monday to make sure that everything is OK with the shoulder.

During Spring Training, LaRoche was diagnosed with a torn labrum and is 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 his shoulder doesn’t hurt when he swings the bat, LaRoche feels his shoulder is weak and the reason he cannot generate any power. The only time his shoulder hurts is when he throws the baseball. LaRoche has been told in the past 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 [leaning toward thinking that it is hurting my swing]. I 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 ever had. His great range and scoops on throws are two reasons the club ranks eighth in the National League in defense.

However, LaRoche wonders if he is hurting the team by continuing to play with the sore shoulder.

“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.

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