Patterson Pleased by Rehab Start

By Adam Kilgore
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 8, 2006

Yesterday was the 41st day John Patterson has been on the 15-day disabled list, and the pitcher the Washington Nationals can least afford to be without hasn't pitched for them in 47 days. Progress finally came last night, as Patterson made his first rehabilitation start for the Class A Potomac Nationals, his biggest stride back to Washington's rotation since right forearm tendinitis sent him to the disabled list April 28.

Patterson allowed the Winston-Salem Warthogs two runs (neither was earned) on four hits, walking one and striking out four in 3 1/3 innings in Potomac's 4-1 loss. He threw 54 pitches -- he was on a 55-pitch limit -- 34 for strikes. The performance pleased Patterson, and, best of all for Washington, he felt no soreness or tightness after his outing.

Patterson said he expects to make one more rehab start -- probably in AAA New Orleans -- before returning to Washington with about 75 to 80 more pitches under his belt. No return date has been set, he said, but Patterson is eager for it to come. He was scheduled to make this start about two weeks ago, but tightness in his arm caused alarm within the Nats organization.

"A lot of that [waiting] was the team," Patterson said. "My arm didn't feel bad, it was just a little bit sore, so they wanted to hold me back a little longer. Longer than I wanted it to be. To get back on a real mound is what's big for me. It helps boost my confidence."

Patterson looked sharp throwing breaking balls for the duration, but that may have been aided by the way the Warthogs treated curves and sliders as if they were miracles of modern science. One batter ducked and spun out of the way of a curveball as the home plate umpire clenched his fist to call a strike.

Patterson paired the sharp curves with a lively fastball. Scouts bearing radar guns behind home plate said Patterson's heater hovered between 89 and 91 mph. "It felt like I had good life," Patterson said. "When I wanted to throw one, and I threw it, the ball felt good.

"Overall, I was pretty pleased with how I threw the ball. I could have gone further in the game, but at this point I'm just getting back into the flow a little bit at a time."

Notes: MLB's first-year player draft was completed with rounds 19 through 50. The Nationals selected four players with local ties -- George Mason first baseman and Westlake graduate Robby Jacobsen in the 22nd round, George Washington left-handed pitcher Dan Pfau in the 27th round, DeMatha right-handed pitcher Nick Pearce in the 40th round, and George Mason right-handed pitcher and O'Connell alum J.J. Pannell in the draft's final round.

Nationals, Orioles rounds 19-50, E4

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