Though he acknowledges he will need surgery to repair a significant tear of the labrum in his left shoulder, Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche remains hopeful he can come back to play in the next month and avoid the procedure until after the season.
LaRoche, who went on the 15-day disabled list Monday after getting the shoulder examined in New York, was back at Nationals Park today and insisted he hasn't conceded that he's done playing in 2011.
"No, I'm holding out hope that [rest and rehab] works," he said. "Whether the doctors know something different, I couldn't tell you. Right now, I'm planning on that. And if it doesn't happen, we'll probably find out pretty quick."
LaRoche plans to refrain from any baseball activities for about two weeks, then work on strengthening the area around his shoulder in an attempt to return to play in about a month. If he continues to feel the injury is negatively affecting his swing after that, he'll have surgery to repair the tear.
"I'm just waiting, doing therapy every day on it right now with the hope that a couple of weeks of no hitting or throwing and just shoulder strengthening will do the trick," he said. "Whether that's wishful thinking or not, time will tell."
LaRoche learned in March he had what was described as a slight tear of the labrum. He acknowledged it hurt to throw but said it didn't impact his swing. He said today doctors never presented the option for surgery at the time.
"No. Never heard it," he said. "Nobody ever considered it. No."
After hitting .172 through the season's first seven weeks, LaRoche finally accepted the injury was negatively affecting his swing. Though he still doesn't feel pain, he believes the bad shoulder prevents him from hitting with full power.
He left the club Sunday and went to New York to get another MRI, which LaRoche said revealed a "really good-sized tear" in the labrum as well as "some rotator cuff issues." He said this doctor had not reviewed the initial MRI taken in March to determine whether the injury got worse or was this bad all along.
If surgery ultimately is necessary, LaRoche wants to make sure it's done soon enough to ensure he's 100 percent for next season. Though there's no specific "drop-dead" date for that decision to be made, it doesn't have to be made yet.
"That's one thing I definitely don't want to have happen, to affect next year's spring training," he said. "It sounds like we've got some time now. It's early enough in the season. I think these two-to-four weeks, whatever it is, won't kill us as far as if we have to go in a month from now."
LaRoche was asked if he believes he or the team should have taken any different tact after initially learning of the injury in March.
"No, I don't," he said. "It never hurt to swing. So my initial thinking was: It's not affecting my swing. I don't feel anything. I can play through the year just like this as long as it doesn't start hurting. It's just one small little thing, whatever it is, in my swing that it's doing. It took me a while to figure that out."