Monday, May 23, 2011

Adam LaRoche's Shoulder — A Timeline

March 1: Adam LaRoche at DH with 'soreness' in throwing shoulder
"Just spring training soreness in his throwing arm," Riggleman said. "It's nothing to be concerned about. He wants to play." … Not surprisingly, LaRoche downplayed the seriousness of his injury -- "I don't even want to call it an injury," he said.
March 25: LaRoche receives MRI, shut down until Monday
Neither he nor Manager Jim Riggleman have any concerns about LaRoche, who is slated to bat cleanup, playing Thursday, opening day. 
“Not at all,” LaRoche said. “If it felt as bad as it did when I first got here for spring training, I would still play. And it’s gotten a lot better since then. I don’t think it’s going to be 100 percent anytime soon. Hopefully I can get it up a little bit from what it is now.”
March 25: LaRoche had MRI on shoulder, will miss 2-3 days
Doctors have told him they think he has a pinched nerve, and he's been going through an exercise routine to strengthen his arm. 
Riggleman said he didn't know what the results of LaRoche's shoulder MRI were, but the Nationals feel good enough about his health to put him back in the lineup against the Braves. He should be ready to go for Thursday's regular season opener, also against Atlanta.
March 27: LaRoche has partially torn rotator cuff, but plans to play
Adam LaRoche, who has been hindered by shoulder soreness for much of the spring, has a partially torn rotator cuff in his throwing arm, a team source confirmed. But the first baseman, who received a cortisone shot, is scheduled to DH tomorrow, will be back at first base Tuesday and doesn't plan to miss any time once the regular season starts Thursday…If LaRoche does miss an extended amount of time at some point, left fielder Michael Morse would be the likely candidate to replace LaRoche. Center fielder Rick Ankiel and reserve outfielder Matt Stairs can also play there.
March 29: Adam LaRoche homers, says his shoulder is feeling better
Adam LaRoche, who hit his first homer of the spring in the fourth inning today, also played first base for the first time since getting a cortisone shot last week. He said the shot "did exactly what we wanted it to," and though his left shoulder - which has a slight labral tear - is only about 50 percent, LaRoche said he's fine playing the season with it at that level.
April 9: Adam LaRoche gets a day to rest shoulder after flare-up

The Nationals' plan is for Adam LaRoche to play more than 150 games this year and get upwards of 600 plate appearances, even with the small labral tear that will likely limit his throwing all season. But the fact that the team is facing a left-handed pitcher tonight gave manager Jim Riggleman a good chance to rest the first baseman - and for LaRoche, it came at a good time. 
He said the pain in his shoulder flared up Tuesday in Florida, several minutes after he fielded a bunt and made a throw. LaRoche has been playing with the injury all week, instinctively taking something off his throws to mask the pain. But he continues to say it's not affecting his swing - his first homer of the year on Thursday put the Nationals ahead for good in the 11th inning against the Marlins. He also doesn't anticipate going to the disabled list unless his swing is affected. But the pain has gotten worse, to the point where it's almost the same as when LaRoche first felt it in February. 
"A throw that short (after fielding a bunt) shouldn't be as painful as it is," LaRoche said. "If I can calm it down a little bit, it'd be great." 
He has been receiving ultrasound therapy on his shoulder, and will be able to get more of that treatment today than he would on a normal game day. LaRoche is realistic about how much better his shoulder will feel, but is hoping to reduce the pain somewhat.
He maintains, however, that he won't need surgery during the season.
May 22: Adam LaRoche will get second opinion on shoulder
Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche, who has been playing all season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder, will get a second opinion tomorrow, team sources said. 
LaRoche is out of the Nationals' lineup today after starting 42 and playing 43 of the Nationals' first 45 games. He was diagnosed with a torn labrum in spring training when he reported problems throwing the ball, but doctors said it would only affect him on defense and wouldn't be detrimental to his swing, since it's his top hand and isn't responsible for most of the power in his swing. 
In the first six weeks of the season, though, things have gone the opposite direction for LaRoche. He's played, in manager Jim Riggleman's opinion, Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base, not making an error in 43 games and scooping nine throws, several of which saved errors for other Nationals infielders. 
But he's only hitting .172 with three homers, and even for the notoriously slow starter, his lack of production this year has been out of the ordinary. 
May 22: Adam LaRoche will seek another opinion on ailing shoulder
Neither LaRoche nor Riggleman indicated which doctor the first baseman will see. But when asked about the potential for season-ending shoulder surgery, Riggleman didn’t rule it out. 
“That’ll depend on what the doctor says tomorrow and how does it feel tomorrow,” Riggleman said. “He’s been playing with this since spring training. It’s a throwing issue for sure and it’s something that will have to be taken care of and he and the doctors now have to make a decision." 
May 23: Trying times will test Jim Riggleman's hold on Nationals clubhouse
First baseman Adam LaRoche told Riggleman he would see a shoulder specialist on Monday to consult on his torn left-shoulder labrum — that’s his third visit. Technically, that’s “no news.” But, in baseball, the third time isn’t a charm, especially for play-in-pain guys like LaRoche. It’s usually a trip to the disabled list for rest, sometimes followed by surgery if that doesn’t work, either. And it usually doesn’t. Last year, 100 RBI, this year, .172. The Nats have no other real first baseman — anywhere. Ian Desmond better get used to Mike Morse digging out his low throws. 

May 24: According to #Nats 1B Adam LaRoche, he has a large tear in the labrum and some tearing in the rotator cuff

May 24: “That’s not what I wanted to hear,” Adam LaRoche said about his shoulder injuries. “I wish it didn’t take me 45 games to figure out something was totally wrong.”

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Everyone loses

I'm disappointed that all the Nats beat writers took the same approach in writing their game stories for yesterday's loss. "Oh, everything would be fine if only the Nats would start hitting." Yes, the Nats' anemic offense (along with the lucky pitching and Zimmerman's injury) is the story of the season so far, but the real story of yesterday's loss is Jim Riggleman's overmanaging blowing up in the team's face.

When a 13-12 Felix Hernandez won the AL Cy Young Award last season, it showed that only one group of people still care about pitching wins: baseball managers.

If the Nats were hitting and winning games, it wouldn't mean that Riggleman is doing a good job of managing. It would mean the Nats are doing well in spite of Riggleman's overmanagerial tendencies. But the lack of offense is exposing Riggleman not only as a poor in-game tactician, but as someone who values the wrong things and makes decisions for the wrong reasons.

In his post-game press conference, Riggleman admitted he made a series of bad decisions (leaving an increasingly ineffective Lannan in the game despite having a warmed-up Clippard available, intentionally walking Whiteside to load the bases with two outs to face Huff, letting Lannan pitch to Huff instead of bringing in Clippard) for the sole purpose of putting Lannan in the position to achieve a stat that DOES NOT MATTER.*

*Sometimes you believe in the stats. Sometimes you believe in the players. And I guess sometimes you believe in sabotaging the team in a misguided attempt to get one of your players a stat. And no, the fact that Riggleman owned up to his mistake doesn't make a difference. It's his process that's at issue.

Last time I checked, getting your starting pitcher a win was not reflected in the standings. The standings don't care which pitcher gets credit for the win. I'm sure everyone in the clubhouse would feel great if the team won and Lannan got credit. I'm equally sure everyone would feel almost as good if the team won but Lannan got a no-decision. But you know what I'm sure doesn't make anyone in the clubhouse feel good? When the team loses the fucking game.

And this is why Riggleman needs to go. He values the wrong things and makes decisions based on those mistaken values.* (Joe Posnanski already said this much better than I ever could.)

*And I didn't even get into the Nix-Bixler bullshit. Seriously, what the fuck was that about?

Yeah, I videoed my laptop. So sue me.