Monday, May 08, 2006

Yep, Patterson's Still Hurt

John Patterson had been scheduled to start tonight's rained-out game for the Potomac Nationals, as a tuneup while he's on the disabled list. But a funny thing happened on the way to the Pfitzner. He had a relapse.

When he went on the DL, he was diagnosed with a flexor pronator muscle strain. I'm certainly not a doctor, but I know just enough to be dangerous. This specific type of injury is in the muscle group that controls wrist movement. (Federal Baseball wrote about this back when Ryan Drese went on the DL) In his last few starts, Patterson had made vague comments about not being able to throw his slider like he wanted, even as he dominated the hitters. If wrist movements were hurting his forearm, it makes sense that he'd lay off the slider, the pitch that puts the most strain on the forearm.

It's an injury that requires rest. The muscle doesn't get better if there's continued strain on it, and near as I can tell, if there's scarring in the elbow (from the trauma), recovery time can be extensive.

But what worries me about this injury is that it's similar to, and often related to ulnar nerve damage. And damage to the ulnar nerve, as Luis Ayala can attest, typically means Tommy John surgery. That ain't good.

John Patterson already had Tommy John surgery, back in 2000, and his recovery was unusually long. If he had to undergo it a second time, his life as a useful pitcher would be over.

Several pitchers have undergone it twice: Jeff Zimmerman, Tim Spooneybarger, Chad Fox, and Scott Williamson, for example. That instills confidence, huh?

The team doesn't seem too concerned:
Tim Abraham, the Nationals' head athletic trainer, said the injury isn't structural damage in Patterson's arm, and the solution is rest.

"There's no indication for any type of surgery," Abraham said. "It's completely muscular."

I can't help but think that there's a giant "Yet" missing from his first sentence.

They haven't said anything to make us think that it's anything major. But it started out innocuous as a forearm strain. Then it becamse a Flexor strain. Then he got pushed back a few weeks. Is he getting better, or is there something worse on the horizon? The Nationals have to hope that it's the former.

For more information, try here or here.

  • Other injury news:

    --Cristian Guzman is officially out for the year, as he'll need surgery on his shoulder. He tried fielding drills, and just wasn't seeing the improvement they needed. He should be ready to go by next year. $8 million wasted, so far.

    --Gary Majewski, not surprisingly, has been diagnosed with rotator cuff tendonitis. Yes, that's ominous. Rotator cuffs aren't a death sentence, but they're not a picnic. Tendinitis is always codeword for overuse, and it's best that they give him some time. Otherwise his pitching won't recover this season, and they'll risk losing him for next, too.

    --Brian Schneider missed Sunday's game with a sore hamstring, but he's expected to be in the lineup for tomorrow's game.

    --Robert Fick's back at Double-A on his rehab. He has another two weeks or so before he has to be called up.