WASHINGTON -- Entering Saturday's action against the Mets, the Nationals were near the bottom in almost every offensive category, but don't blame it on hitting coach Rick Eckstein, said manager Davey Johnson.

Johnson pointed out that Eckstein has the same hitting philosophy as he does. The skipper also said he would defend Eckstein to the "nth degree."

"I think he is one of the best hitting coaches in baseball. He is a hard worker, very detail-oriented and I agree with his philosophy," Johnson said. "I know a lot of about hitting and I know a lot about teaching hitting. He is certainly one of the best, if not the best in baseball today.

"I would vouch for him to the nth degree. I work closely with him. We have conversation about every hitter in the lineup. .... I love Rick Eckstein. He has done an outstanding job. As far as I'm concerned, he has a great future as the hitting coach."

This is not the first time Johnson and Eckstein have worked together. Eckstein was Johnson's bench coach in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and '08 Olympic Games in Beijing.

LaRoche on 60-day DL; Pudge activated

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals put Adam LaRoche on the 60-day disabled list Saturday to make room on the 40-man roster for left-hander Tom Milone, who made his Major League debut Saturday night against the Mets.

LaRoche has missed most of the season because of a shoulder injury.

The Nats also activated catcher Ivan Rodriguez from the 15-day disabled list Saturday. He has missed almost two months because of a right oblique strain. He went 3-for-12 in four rehab starts.

Washington manager Davey Johnson said Rodriguez will not play until he has a full workout before a game.