WASHINGTON -- Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is having one of the toughest seasons of his Major League career. Entering Friday's action against the Marlins, LaRoche was hitting .234 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs. Those numbers are not even close to the MVP-type numbers he put up for Washington last year.
It hasn't helped that LaRoche has lost 15 to 20 pounds in recent months. It was believed, at first, that LaRoche was losing the weight because of the flu he caught right after the All-Star break. But LaRoche revealed on Tuesday afternoon that the weight loss was caused by the medication he is taking for attention deficit disorder (ADD).
At first, LaRoche, who entered the 2013 season at 201 pounds, didn't notice the weight loss until some of his teammates took notice that he looked skinnier than he had in the past. LaRoche then started keeping an eye on himself and noticed that he was dropping weight like crazy. He was down to 180 pounds, which was his high school weight. To prevent losing more, LaRoche stopped taking batting practice with the team.
"I physically feel fine, but feel better with an extra 10 or 15 pounds on me," LaRoche said. "So that is why, in the last month, I hardly go out and take batting practice at all. I pretty much stayed inside, trying to sweat as little as possible until the game starts. I'm trying to put weight back on. It has been frustrating."
LaRoche doesn't use the weight loss as an excuse for his disappointing numbers at the plate. While he has said he's had some bad luck in the batter's box, LaRoche is the first to say that his swings at the plate haven't been the best.
It doesn't help that opposing teams have often used an exaggerated shift, putting the shortstop to the right side of second base to prevent LaRoche from getting base hits. He has been hitting the ball hard, but when he does, there is often an infielder playing in short right field throwing him out at first base.
"Losing the weight and the combination [of the hitting slump] has not helped," LaRoche said. "So as frustrating as the year has been -- offensively and team-wise -- it's just as frustrating with this weight thing. I was just shedding weight rapidly."
The good thing is, LaRoche has not asked out of the lineup, which brings praise from teammates such as shortstop Ian Desmond.
"Everyone in here knows his character and the type of guy he is," Desmond said about LaRoche. "He is a team-first guy. He is ready for baseball and he has a knack for the game. That's for sure. [He continued] to play and never pointed fingers on why he is having an off year. It's real easy to fail and then blame something else. It's not easy to fail and blame nobody. He is just going out there and playing his best."
After the season, LaRoche and his doctor will go back to the drawing board and try to figure out the medication he needs to prevent losing weight.
"It's a long story. There are different types of ADD medication. The problem is, it affects everybody a little bit differently," LaRoche said. "The only way to find out what works individually is to try it. I got on a medication that works great, but it suppresses my appetite.
"Rules are rules. I'm trying to find a way to maybe lower the dosage or something in order to get my appetite back and put on some weight."
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.