“He’s kind of champing at the bit I think,” Johnson said. “But I’m not going to play him tomorrow. Hopefully, he’ll be ready to go Thursday. I might give him an at-bat” Wednesday.
When told LaRoche had said this morning he expected to play Wednesday, Johnson amended his comments a bit, saying LaRoche would “more than likely” not be in the lineup Wednesday, “but he could twist my arm.”
The confusion, Johnson said, stemmed from Johnson growing accustomed to how conservative athletic trainer Lee Kuntz is with injuries. The takeaway seems to be that LaRoche’s ankle has mostly healed, and he feels confidence with his surgically repaired left shoulder, particularly at the plate.
“I don’t think hitting will be an issue,” LaRoche said. “You can only do so much in batting practice or even in live BP. You don’t get the full effect until a game. But I haven’t felt it when I swing it. Not only haven’t I felt it, it’s felt way stronger than it did in spring training or during the year last year. It feels great.”
LaRoche said his ankle, which he sprained last Tuesday during a baserunning drill, only bothers him when he makes the turn around bases, not at the plate at the plate at. Still, “I’m wishing it could heal faster,” LaRoche said. He wore a light wrap on the ankle this morning. He could have probably played today, but since the Nationals have nearly a month until opening day, there seemed to be no point.
“I haven’t really gotten word from him and seen him,” Johnson said. “When a guy tells me he’s ready and I see him do a full workout, I usually give him one more day. I’m still learning about Lee and how conservative our trainers are. But it’s the fourth game. There’s 27 more games. What’s the rush? But I’m glad he’s feeling that way, because I originally said that’s what my plan was. But I haven’t heard anything to make me stick to that yet.”
LaRoche had planned to face live pitching today in a minor league game back in Viera, but the Nationals’ cancelled their early minor league game, so LaRoche will simply workout with the rest of the Nationals who stayed back.