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Patterson Travels for Answers

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 29, 2007

As the Washington Nationals headed north from Atlanta to Pittsburgh, where they begin a three-game series against the Pirates tonight, Opening Day starter John Patterson continued his cross-country trek in search of a series of opinions on his ailing right elbow.

The tour -- in which Patterson planned to consult four doctors this week -- was to wrap up today in St. Louis, where he was to see Rob Thompson at Washington University. His trip had also taken him to Texas and to two stops in California, one to see renowned orthopedist Lewis Yocum. Though the Nationals are eager to discover the root of what has been diagnosed as a nerve problem in Patterson's elbow, Patterson sought the multiple opinions himself.

"John himself was very actively involved in, 'Let's just find out all that we can,' " Nationals President Stan Kasten said. "I don't know that I recall four cross-country things in four days. That's a new one to me. But certainly, if it a) gives us information or b) gives him peace of mind, it's worth it on either score."

Patterson last pitched May 5 in Chicago against the Cubs, and he went on the disabled list the following day. He made a pair of rehabilitation starts for Class A Potomac, but said after he played catch last weekend that his arm still didn't feel right. Manager Manny Acta said the club would not discuss the results of any of the tests until they all had been reviewed.

No Coincidence

Catcher Brian Schneider began the year by failing to throw out any of the first 11 men to try to steal against him, and finished April just 1 for 13. Since then, he has nailed 10 of 22, a percentage that more resembles Schneider's numbers when he led the National League in 2004 and '05.

"Different pitchers," Schneider said, sheepishly acknowledging that the staff is as important a part of the equation as he is. Pitching coach Randy St. Claire is adamant that his pitchers deliver the ball to Schneider in 1.2 or 1.3 seconds.

"Patterson is really, really slow," St. Claire said. Indeed, eight of the stolen bases against Schneider in April came when Patterson was pitching.

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