After an MRI on his left elbow revealed no damage, Tom Gorzelanny expects to miss only two starts while on the disabled list with inflammation on his throwing elbow. Gorzelanny is eligible to come off the disabled list June 8.
Gorzelanny felt no pain in his start Monday in Milwaukee, but felt pain when he extended his elbow playing catch the next day. Gorzelanny had pitched through a similar sensation before, and he learned the folly in that. In 2008, he felt arm soreness in spring training and kept pitching.
In 2007, at 24, Gorzelanny had the best season of his career, going 14-10 with a 3.88 ERA in 201 2/3 innings. But after he tried pitching through soreness, he never attained the same success. From 2008 through 2010, Gorzelanny went 20-21 with a 5.27 ERA in 288 2/3 innings. Teams relegated him to the bullpen. He traced the struggles back to pitching through injury in 2008.
“I kind of hid it,” Gorzelanny said. “I said, ‘I’m fine. I’ll throw.’ It was a bad decision on my part. I paid for it for a couple years, mentally and physically. I had to get all the way back to this point, and it came on again. I’m a little smarter now. I’m more of an adult now. I want to take care of it.”
The Nationals supported Gorzelanny’s decision to tell them about the pain in his elbow. Earlier, they skipped Jordan Zimmermann in the rotation when they had the opportunity because of a postponed game. Zimmermannn is coming off Tommy John surgery, but the Nationals, Manager Jim Riggleman said, want to exercise caution with all their starters.
“We like to look for a period in the season where we can actually let a guy take a break from his starts and let the arm recover a little bit, then crank it back up,” Riggleman said. “We don’t make it happen, but we certainly are receptive to it.”
For the time being, the Nationals recalled Collin Balester from Class AAA Syracuse. He will spend today in the bullpen, then head back to Syracuse to make room for Sunday’s starter. The Nationals recalled, really, because they had no reason not to. They would have played with a 24-man roster otherwise.
The Nationals have not announced their scheduled starter, but chances are the Nationals will choose to have Cuban right-hander Yunesky Maya make his first major league start this season. Maya is 4-2 with a 3.79 ERA at Syracuse this season. Last year in five major league starts, which he made shortly after he came to America for the first time, Maya was 0-3 with a 5.88 ERA.
The Nationals’ rotation has been uncommonly durable this year. All 29 other teams have used at least six starters, while the Nationals, until Sunday, will have needed just their original five.
“Very few teams go weeks, let alone a couple months, with the same five guys making every start,” Riggleman said. “I haven’t experienced it.”