Adam LaRoche gets a day to rest shoulder after flare-up

NEW YORK - The Nationals’ plan is for Adam LaRoche to play more than 150 games this year and get upwards of 600 plate appearances, even with the small labral tear that will likely limit his throwing all season. But the fact that the team is facing a left-handed pitcher tonight gave manager Jim Riggleman a good chance to rest the first baseman - and for LaRoche, it came at a good time.

He said the pain in his shoulder flared up Tuesday in Florida, several minutes after he fielded a bunt and made a throw. LaRoche has been playing with the injury all week, instinctively taking something off his throws to mask the pain. But he continues to say it’s not affecting his swing - his first homer of the year on Thursday put the Nationals ahead for good in the 11th inning against the Marlins. He also doesn’t anticipate going to the disabled list unless his swing is affected. But the pain has gotten worse, to the point where it’s almost the same as when LaRoche first felt it in February.

“A throw that short (after fielding a bunt) shouldn’t be as painful as it is,” LaRoche said. “If I can calm it down a little bit, it’d be great.”

He has been receiving ultrasound therapy on his shoulder, and will be able to get more of that treatment today than he would on a normal game day. LaRoche is realistic about how much better his shoulder will feel, but is hoping to reduce the pain somewhat.

He maintains, however, that he won’t need surgery during the season.

“I don’t (think I’ll need an operation), and that’s not just coming from me,” he said. “That’s coming from the different doctors that have looked at the MRI, that have dealt with patients with the same fraying or tearing. They say, ‘Obviously, if you’re a pitcher, it’s a different story, but if you’re a position player, some extensive rehab would take care of it.’ That’s not to say down the road, it wouldn’t happen, but I think if we did, it would be an offseason thing.”