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Notes: Larkin pays visit to club

Notes: Larkin pays visit to club

WASHINGTON -- Barry Larkin, the Nationals assistant to general manager Jim Bowden, was in Robert F. Kennedy Stadium to tutor the hitters, who have a combined .250 batting average entering Monday's action. Larkin will be with the club for three days.

Shortstop Felipe Lopez played with Larkin for three years when both were with the Reds and Lopez is looking forward to getting some words of wisdom from Larkin. Lopez is one of many Nationals hitters who have underachieved. Entering Monday's game, the switch-hitter is hitting .243 with four home runs and 35 RBIs.

"It's good to see him. I haven't seen him in a long time. He knows a lot about everything. He is one of the best teachers I've had as far as knowing the game. It's always fun to hear him talk about the game," Lopez said. "He is going to watch me today and tomorrow we'll talk about hitting."

Larkin has his own reasons as to why the Nationals have struggled offensively all season. He said the players are young, and the Nats don't have a player that could carry the team offensively.

"They haven't played with a guy that could carry them like I had in my career like Kevin Mitchell, Eric Davis," Larkin said. "I think they miss a healthy, happy Jose Guillen. I think that for a team that is young, obviously they miss Nick Johnson. ... You don't have that one guy that you know that's going to hit 30 [home runs], drive in 100 and surround him with guys that can contribute.

"Let's be real, I wasn't a guy that tore it up offensively. I was good. I got the runner over because I had confidence that the guy behind me could knock him in. If you don't have the confidence in the guy behind you, then all of a sudden you are going to try to do something that may [mess up your] swing."

Larkin went to work right away, helping catcher Brian Schneider with his hitting. Schneider is in a 3-for-33 slump.

"Barry is not here to step on [hitting coach Lenny Harris'] toes. They talk about everything and make sure everything is cool," Schneider said.

More on Larkin: The former shortstop has been going around the Nationals' Minor League system and has been working with infielders Esmailyn Gonzalez and Ian Desmond. Larkin said that both players have the tools defensively, but both have been inconsistent in their approach with the bat.

Larkin went so far as to say that there needs to be one clear direction in the Nationals' Minor League system when it comes to hitting. He noticed that each Minor League team has a different philosophy.

"There needs to be one clear direction on how these guys are supposed to approach hitting," Larkin said. "I think we have some good knowledgeable baseball people here. There are some inconsistencies from what people are teaching from one level to the other. I think that kind of frustrates players.

"I think [assistant general manager] Bob Boone is trying to establish (the hitting philosophy). When I go to Vieira, I hear one thing, when I go to Potomac or Harrisburg, it's something different. Every body has their own philosophies, but for a player coming up through the organization, it's important to have that consistent communication.

Injury report: Johnson received a cortisone shot in his right hip. Last week, it was revealed that he has bursitis in the hip. Johnson will not be involved in baseball activities for three days.

Micah Bowie (left hip) said he is feeling better and hopes to be on a mound by this weekend.

Scoring change: Catcher Brian Schneider was charged with two passed balls on Saturday that looked more like wild pitches. On Monday, the second passed ball was changed to a wild pitch, which was charged to Matt Chico.

Did you know? The Nationals are 9-39 when an opponent scores first in a game this season.

Coming up: The Nationals play the second game of a three-game series against the Astros at RFK on Tuesday at 7:05 ET. Washington right-hander Tim Redding will face Houston right-hander Chris Sampson.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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