Adam LaRoche’s surgically repaired shoulder is not at full strength

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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.

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.