Adam LaRoche feels good after first rehab game, targets Monday return

Adam LaRoche in early May. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Adam LaRoche in early May. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Adam LaRoche played his first game since landing on the disabled list on May 11 with a strained right quadriceps muscle, going five innings for Class A Potomac on Thursday and getting two at-bats. LaRoche’s right leg wasn’t tested much during the game, but he did run to cover first base a handful of times and he was pleased with how it felt. Over the past few days, LaRoche has run the bases and the leg muscle has held up well.

“It felt good,” he said. “My leg feels great. I got to test it defensively coming to the bag. It was an issue towards the end there when it was really hurting, just that first break on a groundball getting back to the bag. Running felt really good.”

LaRoche, the Nationals’ most effective hitter when he landed on the disabled list, plans to play seven innings with Class AA Harrisburg on Friday and then a full game on Saturday with Harrisburg.

Under that plan, LaRoche would take off Sunday, the day he is first eligible to return from the disabled list, and rejoin the Nationals for Monday’s day game. Even if he returned and played in Sunday’s day game, LaRoche would probably have Monday off.

But LaRoche said he also could return Sunday. “I may try to talk them into that and see what they let me do,” he said.

LaRoche went 0 for 2 on Thursday, both hard-hit flyouts. Because the leg didn’t limit his hitting in the batting cages over the past week, he doesn’t have a need for a lot of at-bats before returning.

“I haven’t been down long enough that that really doesn’t concern me,” he said. “It’s more just making sure the leg’s right.”

After six days of rest once he went on DL, LaRoche said his leg felt surprisingly good. He repeated the same sentiment after Thursday’s game. “No complaints,” he said. “I don’t know that it’s totally healed but it sure feels like it is.”

LaRoche hadn’t played in the minor leagues since a rehab stint in 2008. He spent time with Potomac players on Thursday afternoon, and enjoyed talking with them and offering advice. After he played his five innings, he stayed in the dugout for a few more innings watching the game.

“This was a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s refreshing to come back here and see a clubhouse this size and how things are. You forget being up for a long time. You forget the grind of the minor leagues.”

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