Talking LaRoche’s injury and a possible first base platoon

VIERA, Fla. - Apparently, Jayson Werth’s monster home run yesterday really did make a crash landing on his truck.

Werth told reporters this morning that several witnesses saw the baseball nail the truck and that there was a “smoldering crater in the hood”.

The Nationals right fielder might have taken some liberties with that story, but regardless, yesterday’s blast was hit far enough to clear a patio area beyond the left-field fence, fly through a patch of trees and come down all the way out by an area where the Nats players have their cars parked.

That’s a shot.

After a week of inactivity as he tries to recover from a bone bruise on the outside of his left foot, first baseman Adam LaRoche has gotten at-bats on the minor league side the last three days and tested out the foot this morning by doing some light jogging and cutting on a side field.

The plan now, assuming he comes out of today’s activity without any issues, is for him to run the bases during a minor league game tomorrow and further test whether he still feels discomfort when making turns.

“I would hope that sitting on it for a week and not turning and just running straight - not stressing it at all - I’m hoping it’s gone or close to gone and feeling a lot better,” LaRoche said. “Hopefully tomorrow, whenever they let me get on the bases, I’ll know if it’s still there or if it’s completely gone. ... I’m fully expecting it to be a lot better.”

LaRoche said that while he would prefer to be playing in major league spring games at this point, he’s still getting valuable at-bats on the minor league side, where he’s able to get to the plate seven or eight times per game, allowing him to maintain his timing. Because of the number of ABs he can get in a minor league game, those days are as valuable as two or three days worth of major league games.

The good news is that even if he doesn’t play in any Grapefruit League games before the Nationals leave Florida, LaRoche still doesn’t doubt he’ll be ready for opening day.

“No, not right now,” he said. “Because if I still do feel it, again, it’s not something I can’t play with. And the reason for not doing that now is there’s no point in keeping this thing fired up for the next two weeks if we can get rid of it. So that’s where we’re at. That’s the situation. When it was at its peak and really hurting, I could still go play. We could tape it up and it’s going to hurt. I know it’s going to hurt rounding the bases, but if we can totally get rid of it, that’s ideal.”

With LaRoche’s foot hurting and the first baseman still yet to see significant playing time since having major shoulder surgery last year, manager Davey Johnson said yesterday that he has decided to start the season by platooning LaRoche and Mark DeRosa, a right-handed hitter.

LaRoche was asked today how he feels about the idea of platooning at first base.

“No comment,” LaRoche said. “That’s how I feel about it.”

Johnson understands how LaRoche feels about having his playing time cut down, and even appreciates the veteran’s response.

“But with the two nagging little injuries, any way that I can cut his playing time with another quality player I’m going to pursue it,” Johnson said. “It’s not like I’m saying at this stage, ‘You’re a platoon player.’ No. You have these injuries that I’m going to make sure you get some rest. It’s a grinding schedule.”

LaRoche, a career .247 hitter against left-handed pitching (compared to .274 against righties), would still get opportunities to get some cuts against lefties, Johnson said, and the manager also added that the injury to Michael Morse could also free up an opportunity for DeRosa to get time in left field while LaRoche mans first.

“When you’re talking about an everyday player, a platoon is not strictly every time they bring in a left-hander you take him out of the lineup,” Johnson said. “There’s strict platoons and there’s, ‘You’re playing today, this guy’s playing tomorrow.’ It’s like DeRosa, do I look at him as a platoon player? No. He can hit both of them. LaRoche can hit both of them, but I’m going to take care of them.”

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