Pregame notes on the Braves, Werth's bat and McCatty's return

We've covered the Biogenesis story from a couple different angles, with reactions to Gio Gonzalez being cleared of wrongdoing and 13 players being suspended for purchasing/taking performance-enhancers.

Now how about a non-PED blog entry for the first time in a while? Sounds good to me.

The Nationals enter this three-game set with the Braves tonight well-aware of where things stand with 51 games remaining on their schedule. They're 12 1/2 games back of Atlanta in the National League East and 6 1/2 out of the final wild card in the NL.

Every game is valuable, but these games against the Braves are even more meaningful than the rest, given how well the Nats have to play against Atlanta the rest of the way to have any small chance at making a comeback in the division. But while the Nats know what these games count, they are doing their best to avoid thinking big-picture.

"We can't think, 'Oh, we have to win all three games,' or 'We have to do this,' or 'We have to do that,' " Ryan Zimmerman said. "We just literally go out and win one game a night. If we win the rest of the year and (the Braves) win the rest of the year like they have been, it's not gonna matter much anyway. But that's the situation we're in, and we have to take care of ourselves first and then hopefully get some help somewhere along the way. But you can't really start thinking about that."

"We're in a spot where it really doesn't matter who we play," said Adam LaRoche, echoing Zimmerman's thoughts. "We need to win a bunch of games. We're not in Position A right now, but if we start thinking too far down the line and not worrying about tonight's game, then that doesn't work either. So worry about tonight. When it's over, worry about tomorrow and just try to stack up some wins and see what happens the last month of the season."

As far as Davey Johnson is concerned, he's liked what he's seen from his team in recent weeks when it comes to the one-day-at-a-time mantra.

"We've shown signs of doing things we're capable of doing and we just need to be more consistent with it," Johnson said. "This is a good day to start."

LaRoche has struggled mightily during stretches this season, and going into Saturday's game in Milwaukee, the Nats' first baseman was stuck in one of his deep slumps, going 4-for-his-last-43. But he's now hit two homers in as many games, both while using Jayson Werth's bat.

Not surprisingly, LaRoche plans to stick with Werth's bat until it cools off for him. He got Werth's blessing recently.

"Got a couple hugs from him and, 'You're welcome,' " LaRoche said. "That was about it."

LaRoche isn't totally new to trying out some new lumber in game action; he borrowed Roger Bernadina's bat during a game against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey last year and also homered in that game.

"Maybe it's just my bats," LaRoche said with a smile. "Maybe I need to get my name off all my bats. Use somebody else's."

Meanwhile, some good news: pitching coach Steve McCatty is back with the Nationals today after missing their last six games due to an irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure.

After spending three nights in a D.C. hospital, McCatty was discharged and allowed to go home last Wednesday, and following a few days of rest, he's back in the Nats' dugout for this series against the Braves.

"He looks good. He's his old irritable self," Johnson cracked.

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