Henry Rodriguez’s sore elbow could impact opening day bullpen

(Jonathan Newton/TWP) (Jonathan Newton/TWP)

Reliever Henry Rodriguez will rest today and likely tomorrow with soreness in his surgically repaired right elbow, an ailment that could be nothing or could alter the makeup of the Nationals’ opening day bullpen.

Rodriguez had been scheduled to pitch today against the Braves, but Manager Davey Johnson said he came down with “a little inflammation from throwing a lot.” Rodriguez was shaky in his last outing, loading the bases with no outs as he threw one fastball to the backstop and started three straight batters with 3-0 counts.

Rodriguez played catch today, and he could return to games before the Nationals break camp Friday. Rodriguez, Johnson said, is not even taking anti-inflammatory medication.

“I don’t think it’s anything major,” Johnson said. “I’ll probably take it easy for him today and see how he feels tomorrow. Maybe he can throw a bullpen maybe Tuesday, see how he is. It’s not something I’m going to rush.”

If Rodriguez’s inflammation lingers, though, it could change the complexion of the Nationals’ opening day bullpen. The Nationals do not have the option of sending Rodriguez to the minors without the risk of losing him to another team. But if they put him on the disabled list, it would allow them to keep another left-handed reliever in their bullpen, likely either newly acquired J.C. Romero or minor league free agent Fernando Abad, who has impressed this spring.

Rodriguez underwent surgery late in the 2012 season to remove a bone chip from his right elbow. Rodriguez later said the bone chip had caused pain for two years, but he pitched through it without alerting any team officials.

Because of the surgery, Rodriguez did not pitch in winter ball, as he typically does, and Johnson ramped him up slowly this spring. Rodriguez has been receiving more frequent work lately, and so Johnson was not surprised by his soreness.

Adam Kilgore covers national sports for the Washington Post. Previously he served as the Post's Washington Nationals beat writer from 2010 to 2014.

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Adam Kilgore · March 24, 2013

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