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Patterson's Injury Is Taking a Toll

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Had Washington Nationals right-hander John Patterson been healthy for the past month, last night could have been his 10th start of the season. As it is, he has appeared just four times, and though he and General Manager Jim Bowden anticipate that Patterson will be able to overcome the tendinitis in his right forearm and be pitching in the majors by June 10, there are no guarantees.

"It's tough," Patterson said yesterday. "There's nothing I like more than being on the mound. That's where I get to take out my frustrations and everything else. Without having an outlet like that, not being able to go out and pitch, it's frustrating."

It is frustrating for the entire organization. Bowden said last week that if the team were in a pennant race, Patterson would be able to pitch every fifth day. With the team struggling, Manager Frank Robinson believes Patterson's absence has an impact more than every fifth day. Without a reliable starter to pitch into the seventh or eighth inning, Patterson's absence contributes to a worn-out bullpen.

"That's the big difference, really, the trickle-down effect," Robinson said. "And also, the effect on the other starting pitchers [who might say], 'I can match that.' But certainly it would've been a tremendous help for the bullpen."

Patterson is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in his four starts. He has been playing catch regularly and threw two bullpen sessions late last week, after which his arm felt stiff again. But he was back playing catch from 170 feet or so yesterday, "working on my mechanics."

"It's no big deal," Patterson said of the soreness he felt after his bullpen sessions. "Those things are expected during rehab."

Possible Targets

Although Gary Sheffield came off the disabled list yesterday and General Manager Brian Cashman is on the record saying the team would solve its problems internally, the New York Yankees still may be trolling for outfielders, and Nationals Alfonso Soriano and Jose Guillen could be among the targets.

"I'd be surprised if there's a team Brian hasn't talked to," Bowden said. Hideki Matsui and Bubba Crosby both remain on the disabled list.

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