The Nationals introduced first baseman Adam LaRoche to the local media today, showing off their replacement for Adam Dunn and going to great lengths to stress the point that LaRoche will help their defense. In his introduction, Nationals senior media relations director John Dever said the signing was "consistent with the organizational two-way philosophy," and both general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Jim Riggleman praised LaRoche's defense repeatedly.
Here are the highlights from the presser:
--LaRoche said Washington was "a place I wanted to end up," adding later that "I told my agent, Mike (Milchin), 'If this at all possible, let's get this done in Washington.'" He said there were a handful of teams looking at him, offering anything from a one-year deal to the contract he ended up signing with the Nationals (two years plus a mutual option). The Orioles were one of those teams; LaRoche said he started talking to Baltimore "around the same time talks started up with Washington. I can't say if it was ever a serious possibility, but it definitely got to the point where there was some dialogue and we were talking back and forth." Later, he added, "Of the five or six options, this is where I wanted to go, and I'm glad we got it done."
- Before signing with the Nationals, LaRoche said he talked to Matt Capps and Dunn about playing in Washington. Both gave the team a ringing endorsement, he said. Of Dunn, LaRoche said, "He was here a couple years. He said, 'The direction they're going, from the front office to field operations and the coaching staff, everything is first-class.' He totally recommended it. When you hear that from guys you've been around, guys you respect and guys that have been here and played here, it makes that decision pretty easy."
- More on the defense: LaRoche said he hasn't seen much of Danny Espinosa (who Mike Rizzo said will be the opening day second baseman), but he's seen Ian Desmond play short "enough to know that he's really good - an incredible talent. Especially shortstop, that's a position where it's just trial and error. It's learning what works. From what I've seen, the potential is just unbelievable over there." And Riggleman said "we hit some times where the defense wasn't what we wanted it to be. Adam Dunn worked very hard for us. He was such a big guy, and he did some good things for us. ... We feel like, with Adam LaRoche, it's one more athletic guy that we can put out there as the game moves in that direction."
- LaRoche has battled attention deficit disorder in the past, but said he's handling it fine now. "That's one thing that got overblown a little bit. I did obviously come out and talk about ADD and talk about the medication and how much it's helped. But it's been fine. ... I take it daily. I can not take it and still function. I think a lot of people think if I don't take it, my wife's got to spoon-feed me. Luckily, it's not that severe. It definitely helps."
- Jim Riggleman said Jayson Werth and LaRoche will hit fourth and fifth, though it hasn't been determined yet which player will hit where. "Adam can be productive in several different spots. I think we will just let spring training determine whether we will go with (Ryan) Zimmerman-Werth-LaRoche or Zimmerman-LaRoche-Werth. We can play around with it."
I'll have more in a little bit on some of the other topics Rizzo addressed, including the search for more pitching.