Adam? Adam???? HEY, ADAMMM!!! It might sound funny but it's no joke. Pirates newly acquired first baseman Adam LaRoche must take a specially formulated, legal stimulant manufactured from amphetamines or methylphenidates to help protect him from the manifestations of a debilitating neurological disorder known as ADD -- attention deficit disorder.
Whether ADD was the cause, only he can say -- but upon being acquired by Pittsburgh from Atlanta, LaRoche recently missed his first extended coast-to-coast broadcast interview with XM Radio's Ronnie Lane. LaRoche not only failed to check in with Lane's show at the appointed time, he was nowhere to be found when he was repeatedly telephoned on his sprawling Fort Scott, Kan., ranch.
LaRoche, 27, is among perhaps 15 million Americans suffering from the incurable malady which causes distraction, inattentiveness and forgetfulness so severe that the slender, 6-foot-two slugger even drifts off during games. In Atlanta, the task of repeatedly prodding LaRoche to pay attention while playing first base primarily fell to second baseman Marcus Giles, lest a speedy, routine grounder roll down the right field line for a single.
LaRoche was greeted with a chorus of boos in Atlanta last May when he came to the plate after allowing Washington's Nick Johnson to reach base during the previous inning on a little roller about 12 feet from the bag. It should have been an automatic out, but as LaRoche dreamily floated toward the bag Johnson hustled down the line safely.
The job of keeping LaRoche alert may wind up with 2006 National League batting champion Freddy Sanchez, possibly the Pirates prospective new, full-time second baseman, who played third base last year. Though LaRoche's handicap is a nuisance, the potential of LaRoche hitting nearly .300 with perhaps 30 homers or more entirely redeems him as far as the Pirates are concerned.