This afternoon, having noticed his name not on the lineup cared, I asked Adam LaRoche if he thought he could play today.
“Am I not?” he asked. “I’ll be right back.”
LaRoche walked into Manager Jim Riggleman’s office. He had already expressed his desite to play tonight, despite left groin strain that forced him from Sunday’s game and the contiuning pain he feels with the labrum tear in his left shoulder. He tried talking himself into the lineup again, then walked back to his locker.
“That didn’t go like I hoped it would,” he said.
Clearly, LaRoche wants to play tonight. Riggleman said the team’s trainers want to keep LaRoche both tonight and tomorrow, and he wants to compromise. LaRoche supported the manager and the trainers, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a comrpomise he likes.
“Yeah, I feel like I could get through it,” LaRoche said. “Sometimes it kind of gets put out of your hands, unfortunately. I would love to go but I understand that if something did happen it would come back on other people, and we don’t want that, either. It’s very, very frustrating. I hate missing games, period. I don’t mind a day off occasionally if we’re in a long stretch of games and just a mental day, but I don’t like any part of this.”
LaRoche felt better after receiving treatment Monday on the Nationals’ off day. He made clear he was not protesting or angry with any team officials. He was simply upset at the situation.
“I’m not blaming anybody,” LaRoche said. “If I was making out the lineup, my name would be in it. That being said, I don’t always make the smartest decisions. So that’s what those guys get paid to do. We don’t necessarily see eye to eye on it, but I’m not going to throw a manager, a GM or a trainer under the bus, at all. That’s what they want to do. Just because I don’t like it, doesn’t mean it’s not right.”
LaRoche said resting because of his groin will be “a little bit” of a collateral benefit to his shoulder. “That won’t hurt anything, especially the way it’s been feeling, it hasn’t been good.” Still, especially with Ryan Zimmerman out of the lineup, he felt he needed to play.
“Selfishly, I can’t stand not playing,” LaRoche said. “If it’s a situation where guys need at-bats, or if somebody needs to get in to play first, I’m not going to bother you because I want to take care of the bench guys 100 percent. But this time of year, we’ve had a ton of off days, I missed a game the other day, and I just don’t want it to turn into a pattern. We’ve got our best player out. This is not the time for guys to be missing games that need to be in the lineup, period.”
Before reporters stopped asking LaRoche questions, one wondered what it was like when he tried to talk Riggleman out of his sitting him.
“I did everything I could do except throw blows,” LaRoche said, smiling. “We didn’t exchange fists at all but I played it pretty hard. Again, just because I want to play doesn’t make it the right thing and I really believe that. It sucks for me, it’s frustrating, but they’re looking down further ahead than just tonight.”
It was brought to LaRoche attention that he’s probably had easier managers to fight than Riggleman, whose forearms roughly resemble oak tree trunks.
“I’ve got to be careful what I say around him, or make sure there’s other guys in the room because I don’t think that would last very long,” LaRoche deadpanned. He then said he hadn’t been more fired up on a baseball in a while than when Riggleman went after Tony La Russa during the Nationals-Cardinals spring training fracas. “That,” he said, “was awesome.”