Henry Rodriguez walked through the Nationals clubhouse quietly on Monday, like he normally does, headphones jammed around his head, taking a break from working out. The flame-throwing right-handed reliever, whose season was plagues by lack of command and derailed by August elbow surgery, was in good spirits as he rehabbed. The pain in his right elbow was gone.
“I’m better, thank God,” he said. “Almost new, practically.”
Rodriguez was on the disabled list in August with a sore back when the Nationals unexpectedly announced that he had complained of pain in his throwing elbow and underwent surgery to clean up a bone spur. Nationals Manager Davey Johnson said then that the injury shed a different light on Rodriguez’s up-and-down season.
Rodriguez said doctors successfully cleaned up the bone spur and he had Arthritis in his elbow. There was no ligament damage, he said, and it’s the first injury he has suffered to his throwing elbow. He, however, couldn’t tell how much it affected his performance nor when it started hurting because it would come and disappear.
“It hurt me before and I thought it was the same pain,” he said. “I had to say that it hurt because I couldn’t keep going on like I was before.”
For now, Rodriguez is rehabbing and hopes to start throwing again by the end of November. The long-term goal is be ready for next spring training. The added benefit of time away resting and rehabbing, he said, is that he gets to spend more time with his wife. But other than that, it has been difficult to watch his teammates and win, and not be a part of it.
“It’s hard because with all the time I was playing and nothing had happened,” he said. “Maybe if it had happened before and not now that we’re going to the playoffs. It’s the first time I would have been in the playoffs.”
But if and when the Nationals clinch the National League East, Rodriguez will surely be part of the celebration, as one piece of the many that helped them achieve the goal.