ATLANTA - It was a strange sight, really. A pretty cool sight, but a strange one.
There was Chipper Jones in the visiting clubhouse here at Turner Field, the park that he called home for 19 years, dishing out hugs and chatting with Nationals players.
There Jones was, the former Brave and future Hall of Famer talking shop with his good buddy and former teammate Adam LaRoche.
There the two men were, sitting in a hallway adjacent to the Nationals’ clubhouse, watching film and breaking down the struggling LaRoche’s swing.
LaRoche is in an 0-for-26 slump at the moment, and he’ll likely take quality hitting advice from anyone at this point. The fact that they’re coming from a guy who he played across the diamond from last season doesn’t really matter.
Jones and LaRoche have traded tips in the past, and Jones has also helped other Nationals, as well, including Danny Espinosa.
Nats manager Davey Johnson sees no problem with the former Braves third baseman sitting down and helping LaRoche, even if Jones was playing for a division rival last season.
“I said, ‘Get him feeling good, and then I’ve got a couple more guys you can talk to,’ ” Johnson joked.
“Ballplayers always talked,” Johnson said. “I talked to Al Kaline one of my first years, and anything he had to say, I was like a sponge. He gave me a few tips, and they helped. Just talking to a great hitter, after you leave the conversation, you feel like you’re better. I mean, every conversation I had with Ted Williams when he was managing the Senators, I’d go out and get two or three hits.
“I think it’s great. I think today more players do talk more so because of the phones and the (text messaging) and all that stuff. But I think it’s good.”
Johnson had LaRoche hitting sixth yesterday with the Nats facing a left-handed starter, but LaRoche is back up to the No. 5 spot today with the Nats taking their cuts against the right-handed Julio Teheran.
LaRoche is incredibly frustrated with this current stretch, but said after yesterday’s game (in which he went 0-for-4 with three more strikeouts) that he’s going to keep working and keep swinging and try and fight his way out of this funk.
Johnson will continue to stick by him.
“He’s a veteran player. He’s been through it,” Johnson said. “He’s a quality hitter, and I’m not really worried that much about it.”
And if LaRoche smacks two homers tonight here in Atlanta, the Braves can thank the longtime face of their franchise for it.