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Ross Detwiler's hip surgery leaves nagging question for Nats

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By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 20, 2010

VIERA, FLA. -- Ross Detwiler, the 23-year-old former first-round draft pick, began his 2010 season with a setback that outweighs the promise he showed in 2009. Monday, he had hip surgery. He won't be able to return to competitive pitching for three months. The Washington Nationals had hoped for a breakout season from Detwiler, but now, they are contemplating one plaguing question. Namely, why did Detwiler only have surgery to repair a nagging injury just as spring training started?

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According to team officials, Detwiler said nothing about his injury earlier in the offseason. Detwiler never complained to the team medical staff about soreness last season, and he had a clean bill of health when he packed up last October for the offseason.

"My understanding is, this is the first time he ever said a word about it. When Detwiler said it, it was news to us," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "So they went and checked it out. I'm guessing but I think he probably has been feeling something for a while and thought, 'Well, I'm all right.' As athletes you just figure, 'Oh, this is nothing; I'll get through this.' And it probably was nagging, and when he got here and it was still nagging. And then he went into the trainer and said, 'This doesn't feel good.' And it was a fairly serious problem, and it had to be alleviated. Obviously if he had said in October or November that my hip hurts, it would have been checked out."

Undefeated in arbitration

At least with respect to arbitration cases, the Nationals have started the season undefeated. A three-person panel on Friday determined that relief pitcher Sean Burnett will earn $775,000 in 2010, not the $925,000 he requested. Earlier in the week, Washington won its other arbitration case against relief pitcher Brian Bruney. The Nationals have no remaining unresolved cases.

This was the first season in which Burnett, 27, was eligible for arbitration. He earned $408,500 in 2009, which he split between Pittsburgh and Washington. A part of the midseason trade that also brought Nyjer Morgan to the Nationals, Burnett went 2-3 with a 3.12 ERA in 71 games (57 2/3 innings). With the Nationals, Burnett had a 3.20 ERA in 33 games (25 1/3 innings).

Maturing mustache

Pitcher Collin Balester has surrendered his old uniform number, 40, to Chien-Ming Wang. But he also received some consolation. The mustachioed Balester, after an offseason of Twitter-documented facial hair growth, asked to wear uniform number 99. "In 2009 I was denied," Balester said. "But I've got the mustache -- or the mus-stature now." Balester pondered his invented word and added, "I could clean out my Scrabble rack with that."


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