Saturday, April 9, 2011, 5:44 p.m.
By Mark Zuckerman
NEW YORK -- Adam LaRoche was held out of the Nationals' lineup Saturday after experiencing a recurrence of pain in his injured left shoulder, though the Washington first baseman continues to believe he can play through the season without making a trip to the disabled list.
LaRoche, who learned in late-March he has a slight tear of the labrum, said his shoulder started aching Tuesday night shortly after he made a hard throw to second base in Florida. He also had to throw with some velocity Friday when he fielded a bunt from the New York Mets' Chin-lung Hu and threw to first base.
"Making that throw in Florida, I think I've taken a few steps backwards," said LaRoche, who had seen the condition improve after getting a cortisone injection last month and taking a weekend off. "That's part of what today is, to try to get it back to where we were at the end of spring training."
The injury still doesn't affect LaRoche's swing, giving him and team officials confidence he can continue to play without needing to take more than a handful of days off during the season.
"Now, that will change if I start feeling it in my swing," he said. "Then I'll be nervous that it's something I can't play through. That would be worst-case. If it hurts swinging, that's not going to be good. It hasn't gotten to that point. It hurts to throw now. And again, can't feel it swinging. Hopefully it stays that way."
Manager Jim Riggleman met with LaRoche before Saturday's game and told the veteran he wants him to get 600 at-bats this season.
"It's something he's just going to have to play with," Riggleman said.
Though surgery is a possible remedy at some point, LaRoche (who signed a two-year, 16 million contract with the Nationals over the winter) doesn't believe it will be necessary before the end of the season.
"No, I don't," he said. "And that's not just coming from me. That's coming from the different doctors that have looked at the MRI that have dealt with patients with the same fraying or tearing or whatever you want to call it. Obviously if you're a pitcher, it's a different story. But being a position player, there's no reason some extensive rehab can't take care of it. That's not to say down the road it wouldn't happen. But I think if we did, it would be an off-season thing."
With LaRoche out of the lineup Saturday and left-hander Chris Capuano starting for the Mets, Riggleman moved Michael Morse to first base and inserted Jerry Hairston in left field. Rick Ankiel, who generally won't start against lefties, remained in center field because the Nationals don't have any other right-handed outfielders on their bench.
Mark Zuckerman also blogs about the Nationals at natsinsider.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @MarkZuckerman.