PHILADELPHIA -- Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos played in his first extended spring game on Friday and hit two home runs and a double in three innings. To manager Matt Williams, he saw this as good news and bad news.
The good news was, after missing most of the season because of a broken left hamate bone, Ramos is able to hit the ball right away. The bad news is, just because Ramos was able to hit right away, Williams doesn't want Ramos to rush back to the big leagues. The skipper wants to make sure Ramos' legs are in shape.
"We don't want to rush him too fast," Williams said. "But he is doing well behind the plate. We want to make sure his legs are in shape, so he could go nine innings."
On Saturday, Ramos will play six innings in Florida, he will then have an off-day Sunday. Then Ramos will be stretched to play nine innings. Ramos most likely will have a rehab assignment soon thereafter.
The Nationals are hoping he could start playing with the big club starting with the next homestand, which starts Monday against the Dodgers or during the West Coast trip, which starts in Oakland later next week.
LaRoche dealing with right quad tightness
PHILADELPHIA -- Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche left Friday's 5-3 victory over the Phillies in the top of the eighth inning because of tightness in his right quad, which he has dealt with for almost a week. The injury is not considered serious and he is listed as day to day. LaRoche went so far as to say that he expects to play Saturday night against Philadelphia.
LaRoche was on third when manager Matt Williams decided to take him out of the game in favor of Nate McLouth. Williams felt LaRoche may not have been able to score on a fly ball to the outfield.
"He feels a little bit better today than he did in Houston, but still, it's bothering him," Williams said. "[In the eighth inning], he couldn't score. He was feeling a little rough about a sac fly. At the time, we are looking to add on runs. We certainly don't want him hurt. That's why we made the switch."
LaRoche has been off to a great start. LaRoche is hitting .309 with four home runs and 18 RBIs after going 1-for-4 on Friday. Even more impressive is, he has a team-leading 16 walks and with a .407 on-base percentage. LaRoche said it helped that he is surrounded by good hitters this year and he made adjustments during Spring Training.
"I made a conscious effort in Spring Training and made some small adjustments to my approach at the plate. I'm not trying to waver from that," LaRoche said before Friday's game. "So far, it's felt good."
LaRoche has adjusted to opponents who shift to the right side of the diamond when he is at the plate. He collects his share of hits on the left side of the diamond.
"When I'm going pretty well at the plate, I can wait a little longer [and hit the ball to left field]," he said. "When things aren't going well, there are a lot of ground balls to the right side."
After this season, the Nationals and LaRoche have a mutual option for the 2015 season, worth $15 million, but one wonders if LaRoche will be back with the team.
For now, the Nationals are seriously thinking about shifting Ryan Zimmerman from third base to first and moving Anthony Rendon from second base to third.
Asked about his future with the Nationals, LaRoche said, "That's going to dictate my future here -- what they decide they need to do with Zim. He is our best hitter. We need him in the lineup. If the best option is to move Zim to first, then obviously that pushes me out and that's part of life. I would love to stay here. Beyond this year, this team will have a lot of playoff appearances. I just have to take that when it comes. It will be up to [general manager] Mike Rizzo and his boys on what moves they need to make."
Frandsen makes return to Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA -- Nationals infielder/outfielder Kevin Frandsen returned to Citizens Bank Park for the first time since he elected to become a free agent on May 24 after the Phillies outrighted him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Frandsen talked about how he loved playing in front of the Phillies fans and how grateful he was that the Phillies gave him a chance to play in the big leagues again. Frandsen made 488 plate appearances in 174 games with the Phillies in 2012-13, and he thought he would be with the Phillies for a long time before he was outrighted.
"I got an opportunity to make it back to the big leagues. I played really well for them," Frandsen said. "But there are some things you really can't control. I really didn't control it, obviously. It happened."
Frandsen said he was angry when he left the Phillies, but he reiterated that his anger was not toward current manager Ryne Sandberg and his coaching staff. Frandsen was upset that the front office needed payroll flexibility.
"I didn't think of myself [as payroll flexibility]. I earned my way to being on the bench, being a vital part over there. That's what I thought," Frandsen said.
A day after becoming a free agent, Frandsen signed with the Nationals and is one of their main cogs off the bench. He is expected to see his share of playing time during the next two months, now that outfielder Bryce Harper is on the disabled list because of torn ligaments in his left thumb.
• The Nationals are hoping that outfielder Scott Hairston can be activated from the 15-day disabled list by Sunday against the Phillies. Hairston is 15-for-38 against left-hander Cole Hamels, who is pitching that day. Hairston, who is on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Syracuse, is on the disabled list because of a left oblique strain.
• The Nationals need a pitcher on Tuesday against the Dodgers. Williams said he could use the bullpen with left-hander Ross Detwiler or right-hander Craig Stammen getting the start. It depends on how the relievers are used against the Phillies this weekend. They could call someone from the Minor Leagues to make one start.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.