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Adam LaRoche is 5-for-10 with six walks over his last four games.
Make no mistake, though: Adam LaRoche has broken out of his season-opening slump.
He did so over the course of the last week, beginning with his one-on-one session with old pal Chipper Jones in Atlanta and culminating with a strong weekend at the plate in Pittsburgh.
But wait, you say, LaRoche only went 2-for-14 in that series against the Braves. That's hardly evidence of a breakthrough. Ah, but pay no attention to the numbers and instead look at the individual at-bats he put together during those four days. They included three hard-hit flyouts to the warning track, all of them hit into a stiff, northeasterly wind that was present throughout the series at Turner Field.
"I felt great in Atlanta," he said. "Not a ton of hits there, but I squared the ball up good."
LaRoche continued to square the ball up once the Nationals arrived in Pittsburgh over the weekend. And this time, those balls started to fall in for hits. He reached base in nine of 13 plate appearances against the Pirates, with four hits (including a double), five walks and a key sacrifice fly. He struck out only once.
Here's the best evidence of all that LaRoche has got his swing back: The Pirates intentionally walked him in the eighth inning of what was then a 3-2 game on Sunday, electing instead to pitch to the struggling Tyler Moore (who, of course, wound up clobbering a three-run homer off reliever Bryan Morris).
"When a guy's feeling good at the plate, you notice it," LaRoche said. "I think that's part of it. A week ago, they don't think twice. I'm getting pitched to."
LaRoche still has a long way to go to get numbers back up to his career standards, the numbers the Nationals counted on him producing when they re-signed him over the winter to a two-year, $24 million contract.
But after a long and painful April that left some wondering whether he'd ever get it together, LaRoche appears to have put those concerns to rest. He's producing at the plate once again, adding another potent bat to a Nationals lineup that sorely needs his contribution.
"For some reason, I feel like when I get going, we start scoring some runs," he said. "When I get going, the guys are hitting and pushing more runs across."