Adam LaRoche had heard about the forearm injury Mark Teixeira suffered yesterday, which knocked the Yankee out of the World Baseball Classic and created an opening at first base for Team USA. But LaRoche hadn’t really considered what that could mean for him, a left-handed-hitting American first baseman.
“I hope they’re not that desperate,” LaRoche said. “They’d be getting down to the bottom in they’re asking me.”
In reality, they wouldn’t: LaRoche hit 33 homers last season and won both the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards in the National League. He would be a viable candidate, although he said early this morning he has not heard from any Team USA representatives.
LaRoche sounded undecided about whether he would accept an invitation. The biggest hurdle, in his mind, would be a lack of preparation. LaRoche has played in four games and taken 10 plate appearances, going 1 for 9 with a walk, a single and two strikeouts, and does not feel ready to play in a more competitive setting.
“I think it’s a neat idea,” LaRoche said. “You just want to be game-ready when you go there, mentally and physically. And I’m not. I could go play, no question. If we’re playing something where we need to win that, I’d want to be going in there with quite a few more at-bats, really locked in.
“That’s not to say I wouldn’t possibly suck it up and go and try to do it. I don’t know. I guess I should shut my phone off now.”
UPDATE, 10:35: Well, essentially at the exact moment this post went live, Team USA announced they had selected Eric Hosmer to replace Mark Teixeira. As my pal Dave Brown of Yahoo! Sports notes, LaRoche’s hope came true: Team USA was not desperate enough to ask him.
Team USA will begin play Friday in Arizona, which would also not make the easiest logistical planning if they chose a first baseman playing in Florida for the spring.
Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo has been openly supportive of any Nationals player who wants to play in the event. Ross Detwiler, who is scheduled to pitch Saturday, and Gio Gonzalez will play for Team USA. Roger Bernadina has already helped the Dutch squad to the second round.