LaRoche plans to play Sunday in the Nationals’ second spring training game “unless something changes,” he said. He also maintained he could have participated today, but he and Manager Davey Johnson saw no purpose to testing his ankle and shoulder.
“The timing [of the ankle sprain] wasn’t terrible,” LaRoche said. “My arm just needed a little break, so I’ll take a couple days.”
The fitness of LaRoche’s shoulder is one of the primary subplots of this Nationals spring training. The Nationals plan on a full, healthy season from LaRoche, who last year was limited to 45 unproductive games because of a torn labrum.
Earlier this week, the Nationals ran LaRoche’s shoulder through range-of-motion tests, and they found no problems that needed further testing, such as an MRI. Still, LaRoche thought it best to dial back his throwing.
“It’s a soreness that’s not painful, which is exactly what I need right now,” LaRoche said. “I know I’m getting some work in and I’m working it enough, but not overly until it hurts. It’s a getting-in-shape soreness, from stretching it out over the past week. So staying off of it and not throwing real hard is not going to hurt nothing.”
LaRoche does not expect to regain full strength in his shoulder by opening day, but he also does not expect the lingering effects of surgery to keep him sidelined. Johnson has insisted he will give LaRoche frequent days off against left-handed starters in order to play Mark DeRosa at first base and give LaRoche’s shoulder time off.
“I’m not planning on it being [a problem] in the season at all,” LaRoche said “I’m hoping by then I’m ready to go out and play every day.”
LaRoche did not seem overly concerned with either his ankle or his shoulder, and he maintained his deadpan sense of humor. Because of his ankle, “I might not be stealing any bases on Sunday,” he said. LaRoche, who has five stolen bases in his eight-year career, then said he plans on stealing 10 in 2012.
“I talked to [Jayson] Werth,” LaRoche said. “He’s gonna walk me through it.”
As for Werth, he began today’s workout on the field with the rest of his teammates, seemingly back to full participation. Werth did not work out Tuesday because of back spasms, and yesterday he was limited.