CINCINNATI -- For the first time in six games, manager John Russell penciled in Pirates third baseman Andy LaRoche's name into the starting lineup. But Russell wasn't quite ready to yank newly-recalled Neil Walker, who's played third the past two days, from the lineup. So, he sat second baseman Aki Iwamura, moved shortstop Ronny Cedeno into the leadoff spot for the first time this year and started Walker at second base.
The most important news for Pirates fans, though, is that LaRoche's stiff back has loosened enough for him to play. Russell will make sure to keep a close watch on him.
"He did a lot of running around [Wednesday] and looked pretty good," Russell said. "He took BP. He's good to go. Hopefully, he stays healthy. We'll have to keep an eye on it and see if he's starting to favor it again. We thought we had it out there the first time, but it came back."
Since the Pirates are in the middle of a stretch of 20 games in 20 days, Russell also said he wanted to give Iwamura, who had been bothered by a sore hamstring, a rest on the bench while keeping Walker (3-for-8 in his first two games since he was recalled) in the lineup.