VIERA, Fla. - Adam LaRoche, who was scheduled to hit cleanup in the Nationals' new-look lineup tonight, has been scratched after the shoulder pain that was bothering him early this spring flared up, and is waiting to get the results of a MRI he had Wednesday on his left shoulder. But the first baseman, who didn't play in the field until March 7 after dealing with soreness in his throwing arm, doesn't expect to miss opening day.
"If it felt as bad as it did when I first got here for spring training, I would still play opening day, and it's gotten a lot better since then," LaRoche said. "I don't think it's going to be 100 percent anytime soon, but hopefully I can get it up a little bit from what it is now."
LaRoche has never dealt with shoulder pain before, and still isn't sure exactly what's causing it this time. Doctors have told him they think he has a pinched nerve, and he's been going through an exercise routine to strengthen his arm.
The first baseman is 11-for-23 in his last seven games, and has driven in seven runs during that stretch. He's still able to throw, but "isn't really able to cut the ball loose," manager Jim Riggleman said. The Nationals plan to shut him down from throwing for two or three days, and Riggleman said he will likely play Monday and Tuesday before Thursday's opener.
"If this was the regular season, it wouldn't even be a question," LaRoche said. "But if there's something we could have done early, I'd hate to go into the season and two or three weeks in, have to do something about it. So hopefully we'll knock it out now, and put it behind us."