The Baseball Page: April 14, 2013

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Sports,MLB,Nationals,Brian McNally

Nationals report

Unusual start for LaRoche

Adam LaRoche has been notorious for slow starts throughout his 10-year big league career, and it looked like just another one for the Nationals first baseman when he began 2013 0-for-13 at the plate. Last year's hot start seemed just an aberration. That was deceiving, though. LaRoche was actually scalding the ball in a series against the Miami Marlins and in a Friday night game in Cincinnati last week with multiple potential home runs fading just foul at the end. In his case, zero really was just a number.

After dealing with a sore back for the final two games of the Reds series, LaRoche returned from three days off ready to build on his solid swing. He promptly blasted two home runs in the series opener against the White Sox on Tuesday, prompting his 11-year-old son Drake to sidle up to his father and say, "About time." That drew a laugh from LaRoche, who had four RBI in the Chicago series. Healthy last year after offseason shoulder surgery, he posted a .964 OPS in April. LaRoche is hoping for another start like that. So are the Nats, who so far this season have received contributions up and down the lineup.

MLB storylines

1

Basebrawl » It was an odd scene in San Diego on Thursday when Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin took such exception to a Zack Greinke fastball off his elbow he charged the mound and incited a mass brawl. Greinke caught the worst of it when he suffered a broken collarbone that likely will keep him out until June. The Dodgers were incensed, citing the game situation as a reason not to hit Quentin on purpose. For his part, Quentin cited his history against Greinke, who had hit him twice previously in their careers. That's suspicious. But Quentin has to be smarter.

2

Royals' resurgence »

The Detroit Tigers are the clear and overwhelming favorite in the American League Central. But if there is one team with the ceiling at least to think about staying with them, it is the young Royals, stocked with rising talent and maybe -- just maybe -- with a rotation that's finally not a disaster. That remains to be seen. But Kansas City at least had won six of its first 10 games entering play Saturday. Then again, sweeping the Twins isn't exactly a big statement. A true test with be a three-game series later this month in Detroit starting April 23.

3

Smash Davis » Orioles first baseman Chris Davis might be the surprise of the season so far, with six home runs and 19 RBI through his team's first 10 games. Maybe it shouldn't be so shocking though. Davis almost certainly will cool off. But this is also a player who had 33 homers and 85 RBI last season. He was an integral part of an Orioles club that won 93 games and made the postseason for the first time since 1997. Now that Davis is entrenched at first base instead of the outfield or designated hitter, his play will go a long way toward a return appearance for Baltimore.

Who's hot?

1. Barry Zito » The Giants soft-tosser has two straight starts of seven innings with no runs allowed.

2. Erik Bedard » The oft-injured Astros lefty has thrown 7 1/3 scoreless innings.

3. Prince Fielder » In six home games, the Tigers slugger totaled nine hits and 13 RBI.

Who's Not?

1. Roy Halladay » The Mets scored seven runs off the Phillies ace, whose ERA is 14.73.

2. Josh Johnson » The Blue Jays might want to send him back to Miami: 16 hits allowed in his first two starts.

3. Jonathan Sanchez » Pirates lefty allowed 9 runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Diamondbacks.

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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