A torn labrum cost Adam LaRoche nearly the entire 2011 season but it would seem as though the veteran first baseman is right on schedule in his recovery, according to some notes passed along by MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. LaRoche, who’s future is uncertain beyond the 2012 season, is working hard to have a strong comeback season.
LaRoche was one of the first position players to arrive in Viera for Spring Training, getting in his first swings in the batting cages three days before his teammates were due to report. He spent most of his offseason rehabbing his shoulder and wasn’t able to spend the time hitting that he normally would have.
Limited to just 43 games last season, LaRoche only managed to hit 3 HR with 15 RBI, a stark contrast to his career averages to date (23 HR and 81 RBI). Once he gets back up to speed at the plate, the hope is that his production will once again be close to those numbers, though there have been questions about how quickly his power will return. As a left-hander, he’d help balance a very right-hand heavy lineup.
The main concern, however, was not his ability to swing the bat but rather being able to throw the ball. He’s always been a strong defender at first base, something that will only help the young Nationals middle infield. But there have been concerns about whether he’ll be able to throw the ball come Opening Day. LaRoche, however, seems confident that he’ll be ready:
The arm feels, I wouldn’t say great, but I am throwing. I still have a little ways to get there in terms of strength. Other than that, it’s getting your legs in shape, your eyes adjusted and we are facing live pitching now. It looks like everybody is throwing 150 miles per hour. We are getting there.
First base was a subject of discussion for a fair part of the offseason, as we didn’t (and still don’t) know exactly what to expect from LaRoche. The concern became more evident once the team became involved in persistent Prince Fielder rumors, before the slugger landed with the Detroit Tigers. But it sounds as though LaRoche took the rumors in stride:
I was never upset about it. If anything, I have respect for this team for trying to make us better everywhere they can. I think it shows the direction they are trying to go … I totally would have understood it. I’m glad it didn’t work out. I’m glad to be back here, I love these guys, I’m looking forward to playing a full season this year and being a part of it.