Braves first baseman Adam LaRoche made a huge error in Sunday’s game caused by lack of hustle, a condition that has plagued him throughout his career.
The most embarrassing moment of LaRoche’s career occurred with Washington leading 1-0 and a runner at first with two outs. Nick Johnson hit a weak grounder inside the base line, and LaRoche came up perhaps 15 feet to field it. He looked to tag Johnson, but seeing the runner slow down, LaRoche turned his back and casually jogged toward the base in his familiar non-chalant manner. “I thought he was going to stop, so I basically walked to first,” LaRoche said. When LaRoche turned his back, Johnson sped up. To the astonishment and/or horror of teammates and 31,062 in the seats, LaRoche did not.
It appeared from replays that LaRoche’s foot touched the base a split second before Johnson’s, but it was close. Umpire Mark Carlson signaled Johnson safe. LaRoche looked at Carlson in disbelief and said he beat Johnson to the bag. Cox came out of the dugout to argue. Cox was ejected after the inning for continuing to complain from the dugout about the call. “The ump was wrong [with the call], and the player was wrong,” said Cox, whose Braves remained six games behind NL East leader New York and slipped to five behind second-place Philadelphia.
LaRoche said when he got to the dugout, Cox told him, “[Johnson] was out. But it shouldn’t have been close. You have got to start hustling.”
Amazing. But there’s more to the story:
LaRoche has attention-deficit disorder, which causes occasional mental lapses, like forgetting the number of outs or when he’s due to bat. He took medication briefly years ago but didn’t like how it made him feel. LaRoche believes going without medication helps him stay relaxed. He believes that approach has benefited him, but was reconsidering Sunday. He was warned since minor league ball by instructors to at least give the appearance of being intense in the field. “That’s a good point,” he said, “because when something like this happens, [having a laid-back demeanor] makes it look 10 times worse.”
Indeed it does.
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