The Washington Times - May 6, 2012, 08:03PM

Adam LaRoche went for an MRI on his sore right oblique Sunday morning and was relieved when the results showed no tear. The Washington Nationals’ first baseman said the MRI showed only a bruise in the area and accelerated his workouts Sunday as well.

LaRoche, who was first scratched from the Nationals’ lineup on Thursday, said he hit off a tee and balls flipped to him by a coach at about 60 percent effort. He felt he’d made progress for the third straight day. The plan now was for LaRoche to take live batting practice on Monday, the team’s off day, and hopefully be ready to return to the lineup on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.


“I feel a lot better knowing it’s not a slight tear,” he said. 

The one remaining question LaRoche had, he said, before he tried to ramp things up any more was what the bruising represented and whether or not swinging and playing would damage things more.

“I just want to know, is it bruised because it’s close to tearing?” he said. “Is it on the verge?”

LaRoche has been the Nationals’ best hitter this season, hitting .311 with a .392 on-base percentage and a .511 slugging percentage. Chad Tracy, who’s played in his place the past three games and was there again Sunday night, has filled in admirably with five hits in 11 at-bats, two home runs and a walk.

It appears, though, that as long as LaRoche continues to improve the Nationals will avoid putting him on the disabled list — a big break for a team that already has several banged up and injured players.