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LaRoche, 33, rejoins a team for which he hit cleanup and clubbed 32 home runs with 100 RBI in 2012. After losing a year to a torn labrum in his left shoulder, LaRoche became an integral part of the team with the major leagues’ best regular-season record. He solidified himself as the Nationals’ cleanup hitter, won the Silver Slugger and the Gold Glove awards for his performance last season, and, perhaps most importantly, was one of their leaders.

“The Caps and LaRoche back in D.C.? Pretty good week for the nation’s capital,” quipped left-hander Ross Detwiler, an avid hockey fan.

“We are excited to have him back,” shortstop Ian Desmond said in a text message. “He’s a huge part of our team. Unfortunately this means we will have to lose somebody and that’s not what any of us want. But this is a business.”

NOTE: The Nationals will play an exhibition game against the New York Yankees on March 29 at Nationals Park at 2:05 p.m.