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

Feb 23, 2012, 5:13 PM EDT

laroche swing Getty Images

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.

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