Nats expect to get Zim, LaRoche back Tuesday

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Nats expect to get Zim, LaRoche back Tuesday

The Nationals expect to get not one, but two significant boosts to their lineup Tuesday night, with both Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche likely to return from injuries for the start of a road series in Pittsburgh.

Zimmerman took a full round of batting practice today for the first time since he was sidelined by right shoulder inflammation on April 21 and came away confident he's ready to go.

"I felt good," the third baseman said. "I was hitting like I would in a game."

Zimmerman was actually eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list today, but the Nationals didn't want to risk activating him before seeing how his shoulder responded to the BP session. He'll hit again tomorrow (an off-day for the club) and then travel with his teammates to Pittsburgh.

"If everything continues to feel like it did today, then I'll play Tuesday," he said.

LaRoche, meanwhile, took swings off soft-toss throws today and said he felt no problems in his sore right oblique muscle. Like Zimmerman, he'll take a full round of batting practice tomorrow and believes he'll be able to play Tuesday after missing the last four games.

"Obviously it's up to them," he said, "but I feel like Tuesday's pretty realistic right now."

Nats tap Gonzalez as they hope to rebound vs. Cardinals

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Nats tap Gonzalez as they hope to rebound vs. Cardinals

Nats (29-20) vs. Cardinals (25-24) at Nationals Park

The Nationals are looking to bounce back a day after dropping Friday night's game to the Cardinals —their first loss to the Red Birds all season. After Max Scherzer's uneven outing, Washington will send lefty Gio Gonzalez to the mound to face a St. Louis offense that has had trouble with southpaws. The Cards have a slashline of .240/.322/.390 against left-handed pitchers on the season, so it will be up to Gonzalez to keep that trend going against an otherwise hot-hitting lineup. It could help that he has his personal catcher in Jose Lobaton back in the lineup after Wilson Ramos held those duties in Monday's 7-1 loss to the New York Mets. 

Another wrinkle in Saturday's lineup is that Anthony Rendon will have the night off, a decision he made earlier in the week despite the third baseman's recent hot streak. In Rendon's absence, Stephen Drew will take over at the hot corner.

Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter will return to St.Louis' lineup after going on paternity leave for the first two games of this series. 

First pitch: 7:15 p.m.
TV: FOX
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, XM 183
Starting pitchers: Nats - Gio Gonzalez vs. Cardinals - Adam Wainwright

NATS

CF Ben Revere 

LF Jayson Werth 

RF Bryce Harper 

2B Daniel Murphy 

1B Ryan Zimmerman 

3B Stephen Drew 

SS Danny Espinosa 

C Jose Lobaton 

LHP Gio Gonzalez 

CARDINALS

1B Matt Carpenter 

SS Aledmys Diaz 

LF Matt Holiday 

RF Stephen Piscotty 

CF Randal Grichuk 

C Yadier Molina 

2B Jedd Gyroko 

3B Greg Garcia 

RHP Adam Wainwright

 

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NL East: Mets trade for first baseman to help with Duda's absence

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NL East: Mets trade for first baseman to help with Duda's absence

The New York Mets have acquired some help at first base by bringing in 10-year MLB veteran James Loney in a trade with the San Diego Padres. The return has not been reported yet.

Loney himself hinted at the news on Twitter before ESPN confirmed the story. What a time to be alive.

Loney, 32, played the previous three seasons for the Tampa Bay Rays. He has yet to appear in the big leagues this season after signing a free agent deal with San Diego in April.

The former first round pick is a solid hitter with a .285 lifetime average and has always been known for his defense. Last season he hit .280 with four homers and 32 RBI in 104 games for the Rays.

Duda is currently on the 15-day disabled list with a stress fracture in his back. He could be out for a long time, so Loney at least gives the Mets some insurance behind Eric Campbell, who is filling in at first but is hitting just .182 this season.

Nats don't believe Cardinals' Garcia was throwing at them on purpose

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Nats don't believe Cardinals' Garcia was throwing at them on purpose

It's not always easy to determine the intent when a major league pitcher throws over a batter's head and on Friday night Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia did it twice against Nationals center fielder Ben Revere. He also hit second baseman Daniel Murphy with an errant fastball that clipped him on his upper back.

The pitch to Murphy came before the other two in the fourth inning. So, when Garcia lofted one just inches over the helmet of Revere in the fifth, home plate ump Alan Porter issued a warning to both dugouts. It surprised Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who came out to chat with Porter. And it also surprised Nationals skipper Dusty Baker.

"I was surprised. I don’t know what happens on a warning any more. If you come close to a guy I guess it’s a warning," Baker said. 

"I’m sure Mike Matheny was probably just as surprised. You could tell that [Garcia] wasn’t sharp. In my mind, I know he wasn’t trying to hit those guys. There’s no reason to. I don’t know if there’s bad blood in the past, I wasn’t there. I didn’t see anything that merited him coming close to our guys or even getting a warning.”

Revere also didn't think Garcia was trying to hit him above the shoulders on purpose.

"I've faced Garcia a couple of times. I know how humid it is tonight and with the way the ball moves. He was trying to come inside and it kind of got away from him," Revere said. "His hands were sweaty. He wasn't trying to throw at my head."

Revere wasn't as surprised at the warnings and actually thought it was smart of Porter to issue them.

"That was good because you don't want retaliation where something breaks out that shouldn't. After a while, hopefully if he does go up and in and hits someone, then it's like 'okay dude, you're kinda done,'" Revere said.

If something did stem from this later in the series, it wouldn't be the first time animosity build up over the course of several days between teams. Sometimes mayhem breaks out in baseball when you least expect it. 

The Nationals gave Garcia the benefit of the doubt on Friday and don't expect anything else to come from it this weekend as they continue their four-game series. 

"He's not trying to throw at your head. If a pitcher is really trying to do that, then it's time to get serious," Revere said. "You don't want to get somebody potentially hit in the head. I've been hit in the face and it's not fun. It's definitely not fun."