LaRoche getting closer to baseball activities

LaRoche getting closer to baseball activities

LaRoche getting closer to baseball activities
WASHINGTON -- Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche said on Wednesday that his injured left shoulder is getting better, and he is expected to start baseball activities in mid-November.

LaRoche is expected to start Spring Training on time and be ready for the regular season in 2012.

"The shoulder feels great," LaRoche said via telephone. "I've had therapy at home with the local therapist, who has been in close contact with our trainers. They are all getting on the same page

"Physically, I can do baseball activities right now. But there wasn't a huge need to do it as long as the shoulder was feeling good and we didn't have any setbacks."

During Spring Training, LaRoche was diagnosed with a torn labrum. By late May, he began to feel that the shoulder was hurting his swing. In 43 games, LaRoche was hitting .172 with three home runs and 15 RBIs.

While the shoulder didn't hurt when he swung the bat, LaRoche felt it was weak and was the reason he could not generate much power.

The only time his shoulder was in pain was when he threw the baseball. LaRoche was told that he could play the entire season with the injury.

However, before the month of May came to a close, LaRoche wanted to get a second opinion on the shoulder and went to New York. It was then he was given the bad news about his rotator cuff.

During LaRoche's absence, Mike Morse, and later Chris Marrero, emerged at first base. LaRoche said the Nationals didn't promise that he would play every day at the position next season. LaRoche is set to make $8 million in 2012 in the second of a two-year deal. There is a mutual option for '13.

What also has to be taken into consideration is that first basemen Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols will become free agents following the conclusion of the World Series. Do the Nationals plan to compete for their services? It's not known.

"Obviously, anything can happen. That's their decision," LaRoche said. "That's a pretty big investment for someone who is not playing. I don't know what direction they would go. Obviously, anything is possible."

LaRoche made it clear that he wants to stay with the Nationals. He feels they are on the verge of becoming playoff contenders.

"I think this past season proves that we are not that far away. Next year is very realistic," LaRoche said. "I don't think anybody's goal is set on .500. I think everybody's goal is to be playing when the regular season is over."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.