At-bats for LaRoche plus today's lineup

VIERA, Fla. - Pitchers don't start hitting during Grapefruit League games for another week or so, but this morning, they got a chance to place orders for what type of bat they'd like to use.

The result was a few blank stares and some general confusion in the Nationals clubhouse about what style and model number each guy should go with.

Reliever Brad Lidge joked that while he knew the type of the bat he swings, he's less certain of how to, you know, use it.

That's kinda the important part.

First baseman Adam LaRoche won't be playing in a Grapefruit League game either today or tomorrow, he but got some work in during an intrasquad minor league game on Field 3 this morning, getting six at-bats.

LaRoche went 0-for-4 with two walks and an RBI in his plate appearances, and the extent of his baserunning came when he jogged down the first-base line at about three-quarters speed. Most importantly, however, the veteran said he came out of the early work with both his surgically repaired left shoulder and injured left foot feeling good.

"It's nice to get it over with," LaRoche said. "First at-bats looked like they were throwing about 120 (mph). Running down to first, it felt good. Just working on that timing. That was the whole key. That's why I didn't want to miss a week or two because of the foot thing. So if I have to do that a couple times, that's fine.

"I want to see pitches, and it takes a little time for me to get the rhythm down and time pitches and make it look like it's not coming in 100 miles per hour at times. It was a good start."

The only time LaRoche still feels pain in the foot is when he makes turns on the bases, which he didn't do today. He'll continue to try and work the discomfort out of the foot over the next couple days.

As for the shoulder, LaRoche seems to feel like he might have worked through any issues there.

"It's getting now where I don't even think about it," LaRoche said. "Even throwing, for the most part, unless I've got to stretch it out, I don't think about it, which is great. And I don't see hitting being an issue.

"All-in-all, (today was) good. I was excited to get out there and see some live pitching. Seeing them behind the screen and with the cage around you, it's just totally different than getting out there with an umpire and no nets and not knowing what's coming."

Manager Davey Johnson said he won't play LaRoche in the Nats' Grapefruit League game against the Astros tomorrow, but hopes to get him in the lineup by Saturday.

Here's the Nats' lineup for today's 1 p.m. game against the Cardinals:

SS Ian Desmond
2B Steve Lombardozzi
CF Rick Ankiel
1B Chad Tracy
DH Jason Michaels
3B Mark Teahen
LF Roger Bernadina
C Jesus Flores
RF Corey Brown
P Jordan Zimmermann

Dan Kolko was named MASNsports.com's Nationals beat writer after spending the last four years covering the Baltimore Ravens for MASN and also serving as the Web site's deputy managing editor. A University of Delaware graduate originally from Silver Spring, Md., Dan grew up a die-hard baseball fan and is thrilled for the opportunity to cover the Nationals. Before joining MASN, Dan worked in production at Comcast SportsNet in Bethesda, Md., and also interned at the "George Michael Sports Machine" in Washington, D.C.

Follow Dan Kolko on Twitter: @DanKolko

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