The Washington Times - March 25, 2011, 03:13PM

VIERA, Fla. — Adam LaRoche has been shut down from throwing for 2-3 days with a sore left shoulder, the results of what he hopes is a pinched nerve.

Opening Day is not in doubt for the first baseman, both he and Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said Friday, but he did undergo an MRI on Wednesday and is awaiting the results.

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LaRoche had trouble with the shoulder at the start of spring training and while it has improved since then, the pain has plateued the past two weeks.

“He’s throwing tolerably but he really can’t cut the ball loose,” Riggleman said. “We want to see if we can calm that down and we’ll put him back in the lineup, likely Monday… He’s fine to play with it but on a relay throw or something, he’s not comfortable he could really air it out.”

LaRoche said he has never experienced any arm soreness before in his career.

“If this was the pain I felt during the season, this wouldn’t even be a question,” LaRoche said. “I probably wouldn’t even bring it up. I’d go out there and play and it would hinder me from throwing a little bit but no big deal.

“I’d hate to go into the season and two or three weeks in have to do something about it. Hopefully we can knock it out now and put it behind us.”

— Jayson Werth spoke briefly on his opinion of hitting second in the batting order, a place he’s likely to see a lot of time this season.

“I don’t mind hitting second,” he said. “I hit there in ‘08 (with the Phillies) and we won the World Series. I haven’t hit second a lot in my career but I just think right now it makes the most sense with our personnel.”

Werth hit second in 31 games for the 2008 Phillies, batting .256 with seven home runs, 17 RBI, five doubles, one triple, seven stolen bases, 13 walks and a .336 on-base percentage.

Werth was amenable to the move, noting that it seems to put the team in the best position to get men on base at the top of the order.

“Personnel is what’s driving it at this point,” he said.”If we had a prototypical 1-2 guy, I’d probably hit 3-4-5 but it’s one of those things where we don’t. I think we will soon. It’s just a matter of getting those guys comfortable in the lineup and getting their feet settled and playing every day.”

Werth is not a huge stolen base threat — he’s stolen 20 bases just twice in his career (2008, 2009) — but he feels his ability to run the bases will serve him well in the second spot.

“I don’t think my baserunning game is going to change a lot,” he said. “I’m still going to look to steal when I can. One of my big things is I go first to third and first to home really well. I can score from first without being sacrificed.

“I think with me being on base more, my on base percentage historically, batting second makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons.”

— Ryan Zimmerman will play his first game in 11 days when the Nationals welcome the Cardinals at 6:05.

Riggleman said he’d like to see his third baseman play at about 80 percent and not push things too hard to where he can reaggravate the groin injury he’s been nursing.

Here is Nationals’ lineup:

Nyjer Morgan CF
Jayson Werth RF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Wilson Ramos C
Roger Bernadina LF
Jerry Hairston Jr. SS
Alex Cora 1B
Alberto Gonzalez 2B
Tom Gorzelanny P