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Nationals' Detwiler could miss three months after his surgery

By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 19, 2010; D09

VIERA, FLA. -- Even as the Washington Nationals' pitchers and catchers are trickling into town in advance of Friday's official opening of spring training camp, the ranks of starting pitchers vying for rotation spots have been reduced by one. Lefty Ross Detwiler, who appeared on the verge of a breakthrough following a strong end to his 2009 season, had hip surgery on Monday and may not return until May.

Detwiler, 23, had been bothered by a sore right hip for more than a year, according to his agent, Jeff Berry, and the soreness grew worse in recent weeks as Detwiler prepared for spring training.

"It was something the team, Ross and I felt should be addressed," Berry said. "Hopefully [the surgery] has taken care of it, and he'll be back on the mound as quickly as he can."

The surgery to repair what the team described as a labral tear in the hip was performed Monday in Vail, Colo., by hip specialist Marc J. Philippon. According to Berry, Detwiler will report to the Nationals' camp this weekend and should be able to resume throwing in about six weeks. According to a release from the team, Detwiler could be ready for competitive pitching in three months.

Detwiler, the Nationals' first-round draft pick (sixth overall) in 2007, had two stints in the big leagues last season, going 0-5 with a 6.40 ERA in 10 starts from May to July, then -- following a demotion to the minors -- returned to post a 1-1 record and a 1.90 ERA in five appearances (four starts) in September.

Heading into camp, Detwiler was considered among the leading candidates from a pool of around 10 pitchers contending for three rotation spots behind veteran Jason Marquis and lefty John Lannan.

Olsen has 'a lot to prove'

The sight of left-hander Scott Olsen on a mound Thursday morning was enough to draw a small contingent of teammates, coaches and front-office staff to a fenced-off bullpen at the team's minor league complex. The sight of him on a major league mound in April would be even more appealing.

Olsen, 26, has been sidelined since last July with a shoulder injury that ultimately required surgery. Olsen estimates he is 80 percent recovered and says he expects to be all the way back in time for Opening Day. If so, he almost certainly would win a spot in the Nationals' rotation.

"I'm taking it light to see how it responds," Olsen said. "I'm not where I should be. I'm not where I was before. But we still have a couple months before the season starts. There's no reason to rush it back."

Olsen came to Washington in a November 2008 trade and made 11 starts last season (going 2-4 with a 6.03 ERA) before being shut down. This winter, the Nationals non-tendered him but signed him back immediately on a one-year, $1 million guaranteed contract, with incentives based on games started that could earn up as much as $2.825 million more.

"Every single person that's involved in the Nationals' organization, I owe something to," he said. "Because last year was horrible. . . . I have a lot to prove to the organization and to people in baseball in general."

Slaten clears waivers

Lefty Doug Slaten, who was designated for assignment Tuesday, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Class AAA Syracuse.

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