VIERA, Fla. — Adam LaRoche won’t participate in the Nationals’ full workout for the second straight day Thursday as he takes precautions to rest the sprained left ankle he hurt running the bases on Tuesday as well as his surgically-repaired left shoulder. LaRoche said he could workout today but he’s not going to as a precaution, noting that “if we had a game today I could play and I wouldn’t feel it. I could get through it and be fine.”
“I just got a little sprain under one of the bones there running the bases,” LaRoche said, spraining his left ankle during what manager Davey Johnson called “Burma Road,” on Tuesday, in reference to the mountainous 717-mile path that connects Burma to southwest China.
Johnson said Wednesday that LaRoche was the team’s only casualty on Burma Road.
The timing of the days off was good for LaRoche anyway, he said, because it provided him an opportunity to also rest his shoulder. He plans to take a few days where he’ll swing the bat but not push his shoulder hard with significant throwing and “keep off the running.” The soreness he’s feeling in shoulder, which underwent a SLAP repair on his labrum last June, is not a painful soreness.
“It’s exactly what I need right now to where I know I’m getting some work in and I’m working it enough but not overly to where it hurts,” he said. “I guess you call it a ‘getting in shape soreness.’ I’ve been stretching it out the last week so a ocuple of days not throwing real hard, staying off it, it’s not going to hurt.”
The Nationals put LaRoche through a battery of range of motion tests to be sure there was nothing more serious wrong with his shoulder but he said “all that was great,” and the strength in his shoulder was fine.
If all goes well with his ankle, LaRoche plans to be in the lineup for the Nationals’ home opener of the Grapefruit League slate on Sunday vs. the Houston Astros at Space Coast Stadium.
“I might not be stealing any bases Sunday, if that’s what you guys were wondering,” LaRoche joked, adding that his goal for stolen bases this season is 10. LaRoche has spent parts of eight years in the major leagues. He has five career stolen bases.
His speed aside, LaRoche doesn’t anticipate any setbacks with either injury at this point.
Throughout the spring, Johnson plans to play LaRoche in limited quantities, mixing he and Mark DeRosa, who is also coming off a significant wrist injury, in at first base along with Chad Tracy. Once the season starts, though, LaRoche plans to be an everyday player, even though Johnson may take more opportunities than in the past to make sure the first baseman is well-rested and feeling healthy.
“I’m not planning on at the beginning of the season at all,” LaRoche said. “I’m hoping by then I’m ready to go out and play every day.”
“(LaRoche and DeRosa) are both probably at 70-80 percent right now and even once the season starts, I’ll probably take some tough left-handers off of Adam,” Johnson said this week. “I feel with two of them over there and not 100 percent right now, I don’t want to overtax either one of them. I could probably ease them in to the role they’re going to really take on during the heat of everything.”