VIERA, Fla. - For the second straight day, Adam LaRoche spent the late-morning hours out at Field 3 here at the Nationals spring training complex testing out his injured foot by getting in some at-bats during a minor league intrasquad game.
Like yesterday, LaRoche hit third every half-inning, but unlike yesterday, he actually made some strong contact, ripping a home run to right-center field.
It’s worth noting that the longball came off Robbie Ray, a lefty.
The issue with LaRoche is still how his foot feels when he makes a turn around the bases or needs to quickly change directions. The first baseman didn’t really get to make any legitimate turns around first today - I’m not sure a home run trot really qualifies - but he tried to replicate a few turns as best he could.
“I hit four balls off the end of the bat yesterday, so I told them I had to come back today and redeem myself,” LaRoche said. “It felt good getting around the bases a little bit, even on some outs, getting to track across first and stop, come back to the bag. It feels a lot better today.
“All-in-all I felt better. Timing’s still a little off, almost pitch-to-pitch. One pitch (I would) feel good, the next I’d be a little jumpy and out in front. All normal for me this time of year.”
While the home run only came in a minor league intrasquad game, it held some significance for LaRoche, whose most recent home run of any kind came back on April 24 of last year, prior to his season-ending shoulder surgery.
“It’s been a long while,” LaRoche said. “It feels good. To be honest, I’m trying to see as many pitches as I can. I think I swung maybe once first-pitch. But altogether, I’m trying to work some counts, so I was in there taking some good pitches early. It was good.”
LaRoche said based on what he felt today, he feels he might be able to get into a Grapefruit League game on Saturday, when the Nationals have two split-squad contests.
“I think what they’re worried about is getting in a situation where I’m trying to score from first or something’s going on in the game where I have to turn a base really hard,” LaRoche said. “But if I can be semi-careful with that for the next few days, then I’ll hopefully get this thing behind us.
“I just don’t want to do something where we’re back to square one. That’s why I’m coming down here and not playing in those games right now, to make sure I can take it easy. But I like it down here, anyway. I get to see more pitches, more at-bats, track a bunch of pitches. It’s what I needed.”
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