The Washington Times - May 4, 2012, 12:25AM

Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche was scratched from the starting lineup during batting practice Thursday, dealing with right oblique soreness. LaRoche, who missed most of the 2011 season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder and most of this past spring with a bone bruise in his foot, said he thought he injured himself diving for a ball Wednesday night. 

LaRoche did not have an MRI and the Nationals’ training staff assured LaRoche that it is “not a severe tear/strain/whatever you want to call it,” he said. The hope is they caught it early enough that it won’t turn into the type of prolonged injury oblique issues almost always seem to.


All LaRoche needs to do is look across the clubhouse at Mark DeRosa to see what an oblique strain can mean. DeRosa, who hurt himself last Saturday during batting practice, is expected to miss at least 2-3 weeks.

“I don’t know when he’ll be back,” said Nationals manager Davey Johnson. “I can’t put a timetable on it. It’s not in the DeRosa category, but he might be down 2-3 days.”

LaRoche didn’t hit Thursday, taking a few swings off a tee to see where he was at and deciding not to go any further. He could feel the soreness in his later at-bats on Wednesday and admitted it felt “a lot tighter” when he came in Thursday.

“I know these things can linger,” LaRoche said. “I hope we caught it early enough where we can knock it out shortly and get back out there, because obviously the timing couldn’t be any worse.”

LaRoche has been the Nationals’ best hitter to date with a .311 average, four homers and a team-leading 17 RBI. He’s been a savior of sorts for the Nationals as they lost Michael Morse early and Ryan Zimmerman recently.

A usually-slow-starter, LaRoche’s hot start has been an extremely positive development for the Nationals this season and his defense at first base is routinely superb. It would be a big blow to an already depleted middle of the order if LaRoche were to miss a significant amount of time.