Adam LaRoche continues his surge


(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

There has been much angst over the Nationals’ sleepy offense, especially the slumping first baseman who was re-signed to a two-year, $24-million deal in the winter and began the season with a vicious hitting slump. But after reaching his lowest point of his trademark slow start in the first game in May, and a brief session with a former friend and teammate, Adam LaRoche is no longer part of that concern. He has been smashing the baseball around the field and over the fence and proved it again on Tuesday.

This month, LaRoche is hitting .341 (30 of 88) with four doubles, a triple, seven home runs and 19 RBI. He is slugging .648 this month and raised his batting average from .129 after May 1 to .243 following Tuesday’s game. He smashed two home runs on Tuesday, his third multi-home run game of season.

“Getting there,” LaRoche said. “Definitely way more comfortable than I was early on. Similar to last year. I felt last year I was able to piece it together and stay away from those two or three huge, long ruts. I got one out of the way this year and try to ride this out.”

LaRoche has the shown the propensity in his career to be streaky and extremely so. When he is slumping, it can be a brutal stretch. When he is hot, he hits like few others. And right now, he is helping carrying the struggling offense. The Nationals have scored 88 runs this month, 83 of them have been RBIs. Ryan Zimmerman has driven in 13 of them and LaRoche, the most on the team, has plated 19 of them.

“We’re kinda used to seeing that,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “I know he struggled early on. That’s his M.O. He was vital last year from day one. Now having him and Zim swing the bat, too, I like that he’s been a little more aggressive. I think you’re going to see more extra base hits from him.”

James Wagner joined the Post in August 2010 and, prior to covering the Nationals, covered high school sports across the region.
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