01/12/11 4:05 PM EST
Q&A with Adam LaRoche
New first baseman talks about choosing Nationals
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
Last week, Washington agreed to terms with LaRoche on a two-year deal worth about $16 million.
The Nationals have been looking for a first baseman since they allowed slugger Adam Dunn to become a free agent. LaRoche, 31, is coming off the best season of his career, hitting .261 with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs for the D-backs in 2010. He is also an above-average defensive first baseman.
MLB.com caught up with LaRoche on Wednesday to talk about the Nationals and his baseball career.
MLB.com: Why do you feel the Nationals are a good fit for you?
Adam LaRoche: I wanted to be in the National League if possible. If something came up in the American League, I would have switched. My preference is definitely the National League. Of the teams that we were talking with -- long term, I like the potential in Washington. I think the Nationals are tired of losing. ... They are spending some money. From what I've heard, they are going to continue to do that and do what it takes to put a winner out there.
MLB.com: There were reports that the Nationals were competing against the Orioles for your services. Did the Orioles make a good push for your services?
LaRoche: The Orioles made a good push. There was a period where it looked like it was going to be Baltimore. But luckily, the talks picked back up with Washington [and we were able to get a deal done].
MLB.com: Did you talk to any players before getting a deal done with the Nationals?
LaRoche: I spoke to Adam Dunn a little, and he really enjoyed his experience in Washington. He definitely recommended going to Washington. I talked to Ryan Zimmerman a few times before I signed. I spoke to Jayson Werth. I've known those guys from playing against them. I wanted to get their opinions. They were instrumental in my decision. They told me the direction they thought the team was going.
MLB.com: I'm surprised that Adam Dunn gave you advice. That's really classy of him, don't you think?
LaRoche: Yeah, it is. We have known each other for a long time. We talk quite a bit. I knew regardless of the situation, he was going to give me his honest opinion. As you know, he doesn't [lie to anyone] -- whether it's good or bad. It's one of the things that I love about him. He was great. He said, "From the front office down to the coaching staff, everything was really good." He definitely recommended going to Washington. When you hear it from Zimmerman, Werth, Adam, Matt Capps and a couple of other guys, it's pretty convincing.
MLB.com: Dunn was a popular figure in Washington. Fairly or unfairly, you are going to be compared to him by the fans and maybe some members of the media. How do you feel about that?
LaRoche: I think we are two different players. [Joking] One, he outweighs me by 150 pounds. He's got me there.
I'm not coming in trying to be Adam Dunn. I know he would not come in to do the same things if the shoes were reversed. In our position, we are expected to produce some runs and hopefully save some runs over at first base -- defensively. Adam has some incredible pop that no one in the game has. He puts up a lot of home runs. We have different styles.
MLB.com: As far as your game goes, what do you want people to know about you?
LaRoche: I'm not real good about bragging on myself. I've been around long enough. People know what I can do. What I've been able to do most of my career is being out on the field for about 150, 155 games a year. I've been incredibly lucky as far as staying healthy and playing every day. I hope to continue playing every day at least for a couple of years in Washington and help try to turn this team around.
MLB.com: Why was 2010 a great year for you? You drove in 100 runs for the first time in your career.
LaRoche: I can't say it was a lot better than any other year. I know, on paper, 100 RBIs looks better. That's what happens when you have runners on base. I had Stephen Drew, Chris Young, Justin Upton and the rest of the guys hit in front of me. I like having the chance to drive in runs. Last year, I had plenty of opportunities.
MLB.com: You come from baseball family. What does your father, Dave, and your brother, Andy, think about you playing in Washington?
LaRoche: They are pretty excited about it. I would love to somehow get Andy over there. I don't know if it's possible. He is a free agent now and working on a couple of things. He's kind of working on his own deal.
As far as dad is concerned, he likes it. He likes the underdog. He did as a player. He liked going somewhere and helping a ballclub turn things around. That's part of the excitement for me. This is a team that is on the verge of doing some great things.
MLB.com: Your dad was a quality hurler, who was known for the blooper pitch. Why didn't you become a pitcher?
LaRoche: I was a pitcher through college. As a matter of fact, most of the scouts I talked to wanted me to pitch. Out of all the teams, there was one that wanted me to play first base and that was the Braves. That was a no-brainer. It was the only route if I wanted to continue to play first. I did pitch a ton, but that ended in 2000.
MLB.com: It's not a secret that you conquered attention deficit disorder. When did you conquer the illness and when did you know you had it?
LaRoche: First of all, I wouldn't say I conquered it. It is obviously present. There are things I could do to help me get through a game, which is totally fine. I was lucky. I talked to some players who have ADD and they really rely on the medication. I'm not at the point where I can't function without the medication. It kind of got blown up because I came out in public and said that I had it. It was a bigger deal than it actually was.
It was 2005. I would constantly look at the scoreboard and try to figure out how many outs there were. It was a constant battle. Finally, I was lucky enough to have teammates -- Marcus Giles and some other guys -- who would constantly tell me what's going on. It got to the point where I knew something wasn't right. I needed to go check it out. Sure enough, I got a little help medically. It made it a lot easier.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.