WASHINGTON -- Adam LaRoche was not part of the Nationals' original lineup for Friday's series opener against the Phillies, with Chad Tracy stepping in at first base. But a few hours before first pitch, manager Davey Johnson put LaRoche back in for Tracy, batting sixth.
Johnson said he wanted to give LaRoche a second consecutive day off following Thursday's off-day, but Tracy's stiff neck changed those plans. He also factored in LaRoche's 0-for-15 career line against Phillies left-hander John Lannan.
At the same time, Johnson played down the importance he places on a batter's numbers against a certain pitcher. He recalled how during his playing days, he would get angry at former Orioles manager Earl Weaver for using small sample sizes to determine his lineup.
"I told him you needed 500 chances to be able to predict, plus or minus five percent," Johnson said. "That's called the standard-deviation chart.
"I tell guys, if you're a .300 hitter and you're 0-for-10 off this guy, you're ready to go about 5-for-5. Because water seeks its level. Stats you can use however way you want. So I can build my case why I did something by the numbers, whichever side I want to be on. But basically it comes down to gut feeling."
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @HitTheCutoff. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.