By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 24, 2009
The Washington Nationals, as of Thursday morning, hoped injured pitcher Scott Olsen could be ready for spring training 2010. But they didn't know.
Surgery Thursday on Olsen's left shoulder, then, confirmed a best-case scenario: Team doctor Wiemi Douoguih repaired a small tear of Olsen's left labrum and saw no further damage. Douoguih had said before the surgery that, in about 10 percent of similar cases, surgery reveals more extensive shoulder problems.
"Olsen's surgery went well," acting general manager Mike Rizzo said. "As little damage as could be expected was in there. Sometimes you go in there and you find some stuff that was unexpected. This was all expected, and it's as minimal as can be."
As a result, the Nationals expect Olsen to begin a throwing program within six to eight weeks. Though Olsen has no chance of returning to the mound this season, Rizzo said that Olsen will be ready for spring training. Whether the Nationals retain him is a different matter. Olsen, who went 2-4 with a 6.03 ERA in 11 starts, is making $2.8 million this season. Based on arbitration rules, Olsen in 2010 can make no less than 80 percent of his current salary, $2.24 million. If the Nationals don't find that salary palatable, they can non-tender him, as they did last year with highly-paid closer Chad Cordero, who underwent a far more serious shoulder surgery. Complicating the decision: The Nationals have 11 starting pitchers on their 40-man roster, not counting Olsen.
Asked about Olsen's future with the organization, Rizzo said, without expanding, "We've got a long ways before we have to make those decisions."Willing to Deal Dunn?
Contrary to what Rizzo said in a radio interview earlier this month, the Nationals are willing to trade cleanup hitter Adam Dunn before the July 31 trade deadline. But that doesn't mean a trade is likely. The Nationals have listened to a few offers for Dunn, a club source said, but are not actively shopping him. The Nationals are said to be demanding excessively high returns for Dunn. One source called the Nationals' asking price "painful."
Outfielder Josh Willingham remains the most sought-after player on the roster, and is probably the most likely to get dealt.Change at Second Base
In the first half of the season, Anderson Hernández started 55 games at second base. But since Jim Riggleman took over as manager, Hernández hasn't started once -- a telling change. Asked recently whether he thinks anybody on his current roster is capable of becoming a full-time second baseman, Riggleman mentioned Alberto González, and added that Ronnie Belliard needs playing time, too. He didn't mention Hernández.