After pain-free BP, LaRoche set for return

After pain-free BP, LaRoche set for return

PITTSBURGH -- After playing two rehab games with Class A Advanced Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg, Adam LaRoche rejoined the Nationals on Saturday and took batting practice with the team without any problems.

LaRoche is currently on the 15-day disabled list because of a right quad strain, but he will be activated to play on Sunday, according to manager Matt Williams.

"I got to test it in a game the last two days between Potomac and Harrisburg," LaRoche said. "I can't really feel it. I can't even say that it's just tight or even sore. I didn't feel it at all. I'm really surprised that it was gone. As bad as it hurt and from what we could see from the MRI, I didn't think with a week off it would make it go away."

LaRoche's biggest test came while he was with Harrisburg. One of the Senators hitters almost hit LaRoche in the dugout with a flying bat. LaRoche got out of the way quickly and knew he was ready to play.

"There was a left-handed hitter up and the [hitter] swings and he let's go of the bat and it's flying at LaRoche in the dugout," Williams said. "He ducked and got out of the way. He felt good about that. The bat hit a Gatorade cooler and ripped the nozzle off. He had Gatorade all over his back, so he is ready to go."

LaRoche was one of the hottest hitters on the Nationals when he was placed on the disabled list on May 11, hitting .319 with five home runs and 21 RBIs.

"Hopefully, that's a boost for us. We are glad to have him back," Williams said about LaRoche.

With LaRoche coming back, the Nationals optioned infielder Zach Walters to Triple-A Syracuse. The Nationals want him to get consistent at-bats in the Minor Leagues.

"He is a young player and he has been pressed into action because of [our need in the big leagues]. It's important for him to get at-bats," Williams said. "He did some really good things for us, but it's good for him to get back down and get some consistent ABs."

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