Pitcher Cole Kimball is scheduled to have surgery next week on his torn right rotator cuff, the Nationals announced today, ending the season for one of the club’s more promising young relievers, who had spent more than five seasons in the minors waiting for his shot at the big leagues.
The Nationals had placed Kimball on the 15-day disabled list on June 10 with inflammation in his right shoulder following an MRI exam. The night before, Kimball had been unable to push against a trainer’s hand with any resistance because of the pain in his shoulder that forced him from a 7-3 loss at San Diego.
“He just got here,” Manager Davey Johnson said of Kimball, who joined the Nationals on May 14. “He pitched well. Unfortunate injury. Hopefully he’ll be all right and recover. It’s part of the game, the injuries. We’ve had our fair share.”
Kimball first felt pain in April when began the season with Class AAA Syracuse but did not reveal it. He still managed to pitch well enough to earn a call-up, and in 14 innings he allowed three runs on eight hits with eight walks, 11 strikeouts and a 1.93 ERA.
In his last outing, Kimball entered with the bases loaded and walked the first batter he faced on five pitches. It was then he decided the pain was too much and that he no longer could keep the injury to himself.
“It’s just something you pitch through sometimes, and sometimes you can’t,” Kimball said at the time. “I’m at the point right now where I don’t want to try and push it too far and end up having it worse than it could be. Now it’s just rest and medicine instead of surgery.”
Now Kimball is looking at perhaps six months of recovery and rehabilitation from the procedure that David W. Altchek will perform in New York. Altchek is the orthopedic surgeon from whom Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche sought a second opinion before having season-ending surgery for a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
Johnson said he saw Kimball in the training room while he was going to speak with catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique.
Kimball “didn’t have the happy-go-lucky look on his face,” Johnson said. “I didn’t want him to have to tell me how bad it was. I probably should have had that conversation with him. Nobody wants for him to get surgery.”