VIERA, Fla. (AP) - Nationals' first baseman Adam LaRoche nearly departed from the Nationals this offseason during an uncertain contract negotiation.
He wound up signing a two-year deal instead of the three he wanted, but eventually settled for a contract that includes a mutual option for a third.
His return means that the defending NL East champions will return their entire starting infield from a year ago and give manager Davey Johnson back a bat that produced solid defense, as well as 33 home runs and 100 RBI for him in 2012.
LaRoche is also healthy this spring after being hampered by shoulder and foot issues a year ago. It's all added up to increased expectations for the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner.

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