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First baseman Adam LaRoche last appeared in a game on March 15.
Testing out his injured left foot in that fashion for the first time in nearly two weeks, LaRoche reported no problems and is expected to be cleared to participate fully in a minor-league game tomorrow.
If that goes well, LaRoche could be back in the Nationals' big-league lineup later this week, giving him enough time to make the Opening Day roster.
Even if it doesn't happen according to that timetable, LaRoche has no doubts he'll be at Wrigley Field on April 5.
"No, not right now," he said. "Because if I still do feel it, it's not something I can't play with. ... When it was at its peak and really hurting, I could still go play. "
LaRoche last played in a Grapefruit League game March 15, but he's since appeared in three minor-league games, getting as many as seven at-bats per day. To this point, he had been restricted to running in a straight line to first base, not cleared to make the turn toward second, but that restriction should be lifted tomorrow.
The veteran first baseman isn't concerned about having so little time to prepare for the season opener because he's been able to face live pitching in minor-league camp. In theory, he'd be comfortable taking the field in Chicago in 10 days without having appeared in another big-league game in Florida.
"I would like to here, defensively, to at least be out on first base and get to work around the bag a little bit and play with the guys I'm going to be playing with," he said. "But worse case, if it doesn't happen, as long as I continue to get at-bats down there, then I'll be ready."
Once the season begins, manager Davey Johnson plans to give LaRoche some occasional time off, particularly against left-handed starters. Mark DeRosa would take over on those days as part of a platoon, a scenario that doesn't exactly sit well with LaRoche.
"No comment," he said when asked about being part of a platoon. "That's how I feel about it."
Johnson explained his thinking in giving LaRoche days off, especially early in the season.
"It's not like I'm saying at this stage you're a platoon player," the manager said. "No, you have these injuries that I'm going to make sure you get some rest. It's a grinding schedule. ... This is all about injury."