It rarely takes long, relatively speaking, for Nationals pitcher Todd Coffey to get from the bullpen to the mound. His entrance is one of the most entertaining in baseball, with the burly reliever sprinting that distance each time he’s handed the ball.
It took exactly 13.3 seconds this afternoon for Coffey to make it to the pitching rubber to face the Marlins’ Emilio Bonifacio with two outs in the seventh inning. The new Coffey Time clock on the scoreboard confirmed that, but only a few minutes later, the right-hander was out of the game after the second baseman’s sizzling liner made contact just above Coffey’s throwing elbow.
Coffey, 30, tried to locate the ball so he could attempt a throw to first, but Bonifacio reached in plenty of time. Soon after, Coffey began holding his arm and at one point doubled over as he inspected himself. Manager Jim Riggleman came out of the dugout to check on his pitcher, who walked off the field on his own, his brief stint complete.
X-rays revealed no structural damage, and Coffey proudly displayed the welt to reporters in the clubhouse shortly after the Nationals won, 8-4, to end a three-game skid and avoid a sweep at the hands of their NL East rivals.
“I was just a little sore,” said Coffey, who’s listed at 240 pounds. “I did about three rounds of ice on it and treatment. The key now is just to knock the swelling down. The doctor looked at it. Nothing’s broken, which is the main thing. Knock the swelling out, and I’m good to go.”
Neither Riggleman nor Coffey offered a definitive timetable for when he would available to pitch again. Washington next plays tomorrow night in the first game of a two-game set against Pittsburgh at Nationals Park, and Coffey said he planned on icing the area all night and wearing a pressure sleeve to help reduce swelling.
The Nationals recently have added other hard throwers to the bullpen, including Cole Kimball just yesterday morning. Kimball in fact made his big league debut in yesterday afternoon’s 1-0 loss to Florida in the second game of the series, and he pitched the ninth today.
Henry Rodriguez, reinstated from the disabled list on April 27, is another lively arm out of the bullpen, but control issues have kept his progress measured despite having reached 100 mph with his fastball.
Coffey, meantime, has a 0.73 ERA with 15 strikeouts in his last 10 appearances. He’s permitted just one earned run over his past 12 1/3 innings. Overall this season, Coffey, who estimated he gets hit three to four times a year, is 1-0 with 2.45 ERA and one save.
“I know that the X-rays are negative, so he’s going to be pretty sore,” Riggleman said. “That caught him right there on the elbow, just a little above the elbow, so it’s going to be real tender, but it’s not anything broken there.”