Brand-new Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche was introduced Friday at Nationals Park and talked about how he wants to make his new home as difficult a place to play as any in the National League.
In years past as a visiting ball player, that was not the case. LaRoche arrived as a Pirate, Brave and even a Diamondback at Nats Park and those teams expected to win and usually did.
"It was pretty comfortable coming in here to play a series," LaRoche remembered. "That is no disrespect at all, but I was on the Pirates for a couple years and it was the same way. There was no fear of any teams coming in here."
LaRoche said that feeling is the polar opposite of what it needs to be like when teams arrive in Washington. You want home field advantage, and you get that by fielding a formidable squad.
"When you are playing at home, (you want) a team coming in and saying, 'Man, we better strap it on, this is going to be a tough series,' " LaRoche said. If that happens, "you are automatically in the driver's seat."
LaRoche is confident the moves the Nats have made this off season to add Jayson Werth and others, coupled with the young players that are already here, makes for a strengthened core to help the Nationals build into a that type of contender.
"That is the direction where they want to end up here," LaRoche said. "Every good team I have been on, that is what you have. You have that attitude that, yeah, we lost tonight, but who cares because we are going to win four of the next five."
LaRoche knows playing for a team like the Braves and seeing what the Phillies do each year, it is going to be a battle for the Nationals to climb up the National League East standings.
"It is a tough division," LaRoche said. "There is no question. To be successful here, you are going up against a couple of really good teams that consistently field good teams.
"It won't be easy, but I think you have got to start some where. (The Nats) are sick of being at the bottom of the division and they are ready to make the move."