After missing out on Prince Fielder the Nationals are fully committed to Adam LaRoche at first base despite his missing most of last season following shoulder surgery.
LaRoche played catch from 150 feet today, which is the furthest he’s thrown since going under the knife in May, and but afterward told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that “it didn’t feel normal.”
LaRoche also noted that doctors advised him it may take two years for his shoulder to return to where it was and indicated that he won’t be close to full strength by Opening Day. That figures to hurt his throwing most, which may not be a huge issue for a first baseman anyway, but certainly could also impact his hitting.
He’s owed $8 million this season with a $10 million option or $1 million buyout for 2013, so the Nationals have little choice but to let him sink or swim, particularly after potential replacement Chris Marrero tore his hamstring playing winter ball and is expected to miss the entire first half.
Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.
The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.
Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.
As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:
Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.
Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.
Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.