LaRoche ready, waiting in Las Vegas

Times Staff Writer

Figuring a place on the Dodgers’ major league roster was waiting for him, Andy LaRoche rushed through his rehabilitation, completing what was expected to be a 10-week process in 7 1/2 weeks. But as of Tuesday, three days after his activation from the 15-day disabled list, he was still in triple-A Las Vegas.

“I’m obviously not happy about it,” LaRoche said by phone from Las Vegas. “But it’s the decision they made.

“They’re winning. I don’t blame them for anything. Hopefully, I can play my way back.”

The 24-year old LaRoche was competing with Nomar Garciaparra in spring training to be the starting third baseman, but he tore a ligament in his right thumb March 7 and underwent surgery three days later.


Trainer Stan Conte said he understood LaRoche’s disappointment at being optioned to Las Vegas, where he was already playing as part of his minor league rehabilitation assignment.

“He’s worked as hard as I’ve ever had anybody work,” Conte said.

LaRoche did extra cardiovascular work while hurt to go from 221 pounds to 208. He was asked to get down to 212.

LaRoche, who hit .350 in the spring, had seven hits in 22 at-bats in six games with double-A Jacksonville in his first part of his rehab assignment. Later, he was moved to Las Vegas, where he was two for 13 with a home run in his first four games.

Saturday, he was summoned to Las Vegas Manager Lorenzo Bundy’s office, where he was told he was being activated but being kept in triple A.

“Obviously, I was bitter at first,” he said. “Who isn’t when they first get sent down?”

LaRoche said he asked Bundy to sit him that day -- he had played 10 games in 11 days -- and that it was Bundy’s call to rest him in the next. Upon returning to the lineup Monday, he hit a home run.

“Just because I’m at triple A, I can’t let that get to me,” LaRoche said. “I’m not going to let anyone else’s decision affect the way I go about my business. I know my time will come.”

LaRoche says he continues to feel numbness and “tingliness” in his thumb, but that he’s able to throw a ball normally. He conceded that the time in the minors could benefit him.

“I don’t want to go up there if my timing’s not right,” he said. “I don’t want to go one for my first 20. I want to be at the top of my game if they call me back up.”

Manager Joe Torre admitted that he doesn’t know when that will be, pointing to the overcrowding at the position because of the surprising play of rookie Blake DeWitt and Garciaparra’s expected recovery.

“Sometimes the game is unfair,” Torre said, adding that he would speak to LaRoche in the near future in part to tell him not to worry about his numbers.

What LaRoche said he found curious was the timing of his activation and subsequent optioning. His rehab assignment ended short of its maximum 20 days, costing him about a week’s worth of major league salary and service time. LaRoche said his guess was that the motive was financial.

General Manager Ned Colletti said that wasn’t the case, stating, “He was healthy enough to play.”


Jason Schmidt’s scheduled simulated game was pushed back a day to today because hadn’t recovered from a 72-pitch bullpen session Friday. Schmidt could still make the first start of a rehab appearance this weekend, Conte said. . . . Utility infielder Tony Abreu has been shut down for three to seven days, as he experienced tightness in his groin after playing in an extended spring training game Monday.