WASHINGTON -- The Nationals were without two of their best hitters as they began a three-game set with the Phillies on Tuesday night.
Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche were both held out of manager Davey Johnson's lineup with different back ailments. Zimmerman appeared to tweak his back while sliding into home plate in the 11th inning of Sunday's 11-10 win over the Brewers in Milwaukee. Johnson was hopeful the injury is just a "day-to-day thing" for Zimmerman, who has been one of the best hitters in all of baseball over the past month, batting .366 with a 1.186 OPS, 10 home runs and 24 RBIs in July.
Johnson declined to say whether Zimmerman or LaRoche would be available to pinch-hit.
"He looked all right, he wasn't really slouched over or nothing," Johnson said. "He whirlpooled and got a little treatment. I hope to just nip this in the bud."
LaRoche, meanwhile, has been dealing with back spasms since leaving Sunday's game in the fourth inning. The Nationals have considered their first baseman day to day with the injury, though LaRoche has been dealing with lower back soreness for a week or two. With the short turnaround following Saturday night's game, LaRoche was unable to fully stretch his back out as he usually does.
"I felt like it was kind of going the other direction [Sunday]," LaRoche said after the game. "I felt like the more I stood around in the field and sat on the bench, the tighter it was getting. Hopefully [Monday], having a day off can get it feeling better."
Tuesday afternoon, Johnson said LaRoche is feeling better and holding him out of the lineup is mainly precautionary. LaRoche leads the Nationals with 19 home runs, 61 RBIs and an .840 OPS.
"After a guy comes back from something, I like to see him go through a workout," Johnson said. "I don't want to take a chance to where he re-injures it."