LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — As the Washington Nationals’ last remaining regular who has yet to get into a spring training game, delayed by a sprained ankle and surgically-repaired shoulder, Adam LaRoche was fully expecting to be in the starting lineup Wednesday against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals.
LaRoche was, as manager Davey Johnson put it, “champing at the bit” for some live minor league arms to take batting practice off of Tuesday. Because they wouldn’t be available until after 1 p.m., LaRoche’s session was cancelled but he said he fully expected to be in the lineup Wednesday, as planned.
“I’ll do what I can here and get in there tomorrow,” LaRoche said I think the goal here was not to go out and play and have this thing last for a couple of weeks instead of a few days. I was hoping a couple days. It turned into five or six. In the scheme of things, it’s not that big of a deal.”
But when Johnson met reporters at the field in Orlando prior to the Nationals-Braves 1 p.m. tilt, he said he was actually planning to hold LaRoche back another day.
“What’s the rush?” Johnson said.
“I think he’ll be champing at the bit for tomorrow, but I’m not going to play him tomorrow,” Johnson added. “Hopefully he’ll be ready to go Thursday. I might give him an at-bat (Wednesday). When they’ve been down, I like to see them go through a workout and then go. It’s a long spring. We’ve got time. I’m not worried about it. I’m more concerned about him being right.”
LaRoche injured his left ankle running the bases last week during the Nationals’ workout and has been limited since. It was good timing, he said, as it provided him an opportunity to also rest his left shoulder, which is undergoing rigorous work for the first time, really, since June surgery to repair a SLAP tear.
Johnson said he planned to rest a lot of his regular infielders on Wednesday so it wouldn’t be so out of whack to see him sit LaRoche, as well. With the main issue being LaRoche’s ankle right now running the bases appears to be the biggest hurdle at this point and feeds Johnson’s desire to wait.
“It feels great running,” LaRoche said. “It’s just turning right now, trying to break in a direction, I can certainly feel it… It’s still there. I don’t know, it’s one of those things. It does feel like it’s getting better. I’m wishing it could heal faster.”
Johnson has said that when he does get LaRoche into a game, he plans to play him fairly regularly because of the long layoff the first baseman has had since he’s played organized games. After watching the majority of the Nationals’ 2011 season, LaRoche, too is curious how he’ll feel and how his shoulder will respond in games. Hitting has not caused him any problems to this point and his throws are still not 100 percent but do not cause him pain, an important distinction.
“You dont get the full effect until a game,” LaRoche said. “But I havent felt it when I swing it. Not only haven’t I felt it, its felt way stronger then it did in spring training (2011) or during the year last year. It feels great.”