LaRoche feels ready for opening day, DeRosa unconcerned about calf injury

VIERA, Fla. - The day that one Nationals first baseman returned to the lineup after a two-week injury absence, another Nationals first baseman was scratched from the lineup because of injury.

That’s the way things have gone in Viera lately.

Luckily for the Nats, the injury news today was mostly positive, as Adam LaRoche made it through today’s game - his first since March 15 - feeling good. LaRoche went 1-for-2 against the Braves today, grounding out to second in the second inning, ripping a single up the middle in the fourth inning and walking in the sixth inning.

Most importantly, however, LaRoche didn’t feel any discomfort in his left foot, which has been bugging him the last few weeks because of a bone bruise.

“I really wanted to come up here, be on the field with these guys and see some pitches on the big field,” LaRoche said. “All went well. It felt great.”

LaRoche had only felt discomfort in the foot when he made turns around the bases, but he didn’t feel anything when running the bases on his own yesterday, and felt fine when he made a turn around first during today’s game. As a result, LaRoche is now willing to declare himself good to go for opening day.

“I told Davey (Johnson) after the game, ‘I’ll tell you what, let’s just put this behind us. I feel like this is over with. Let’s move on and rock and roll for the season.’ With that said, if something does pop up in the next couple days, I’m going to tell him. But I don’t foresee that being a problem at all.”

Johnson said after the game that LaRoche will be in the lineup again tomorrow, and after watching LaRoche’s hard-hit single off Braves lefty Mike Minor today, the Nats’ skipper also mentioned that he might reconsider using his first baseman in a platoon to start the season.

The platoon was something Johnson had suggested recently, in an effort to allow LaRoche time to ease into action during the regular season and also get another right-handed bat in the lineup against left-handed pitching.

“I said if he’s going to hit left-handers like that, I may revisit the platoon thing,” Johnson said. “But you know, all options are open to me. I just wanted to let him know that he looked that good to me.”

Mark DeRosa was the right-handed hitting first baseman who Johnson had in mind to platoon with LaRoche, but right now, DeRosa might even be a little more banged up than his left-handed counterpart.

DeRosa was a late scratch from today’s lineup because of tightness in his left calf, but the 37-year-old said he’ll be back playing tomorrow.

“It feels like a little Charley Horse,” said DeRosa, who first felt the tightness during Tuesday’s game in Jupiter. “But it’s not a big deal, nothing I’m concerned about.”

Given that DeRosa is finally healthy after having battled through serious wrist injuries the last few years, he wasn’t inclined to try and push things today by playing through the tightness and possibly worsening his condition.

“I figure why go out there and jeopardize everything you’ve worked so hard,” DeRosa said. “If anyone is tired of being in the training room, it’s me. I’ve spent the better part of the last 2 1/2 years in there. I feel like my swing is there. I feel good about what I’ve done in camp so far. I just didn’t want to do anything foolish.”

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