By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 17, 2006
VIERA, Fla., March 16 -- Washington Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzman has a torn labrum in his right shoulder, but doctors have decided not to operate -- for now. Instead the club will treat the injury with rest and rehabilitation. Guzman, though, almost certainly won't be ready to open the season on April 3.
Guzman has what is referred to as a "SLAP" tear, which occurs when there is damage to the labrum where the biceps tendon attaches. It is the same injury for which right-handers Ryan Drese and Jon Rauch underwent surgery last year. But because Guzman is a shortstop, the Nationals are hoping a week more of rest and a subsequent exercise program will help avoid the surgery, which would put Guzman out for "months, not weeks," according to General Manager Jim Bowden.
"If it's a pitcher, we would have operated on him," Bowden said. "Because he's a shortstop, we'll try to build it up, give it a couple more weeks -- and hope."
Guzman, who was coming off a disastrous year in which he hit .219, arrived at spring training having shed some excess weight and optimistic after offseason eye surgery. But he hasn't played since March 9. The diagnosis of the labrum tear was made after Guzman underwent tests administered by Timothy Kremchek, a frequent orthopedic consultant to the Nationals, in Cincinnati.
"We were looking forward to him, and I'm sure he was, too, of having a full spring training and getting ready for the season," Manager Frank Robinson said. "And now this comes up. The uncertainty is even worse. With that type of absence from spring training, there's no way he can open the season."
Royce Clayton, a veteran entering his 16th major league season, will almost certainly begin the season as the starter. Damian Jackson, another free agent signee who is entering his 11th season, likely will be the primary backup.Patterson in Form
Right-hander John Patterson already is rolling, throwing five innings of shutout ball with six strikeouts in an 8-2 victory over a watered-down split-squad version of the Detroit Tigers. After opening the spring against a touring team from South Korea, Patterson hasn't allowed a run in 12 innings against major league competition, striking out 13.
"I feel good," Patterson said. "My location's been good, breaking ball's been all right. I'm on pace." . . .
Outfielder Ryan Church, who returned to the lineup after missing a day with a stomach virus, had an interesting game , twice throwing his bat into the stands after swinging and missing. "It was souvenir day," Church joked. The problem actually came about because Church was trying a new pair of batting gloves, which he said he won't use anymore. He went 1 for 3 with a double to raise his average to .200.
Johnson Homers First baseman Nick Johnson, who had missed four games because of a stomach virus, hit his first homer of the spring in yesterday's 8-2 victory over the Tigers. It was followed by a homer from third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Up Next vs. O's at Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 1:05 p.m.