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Nationals reliever Ryan Madson’s finger injury wasn’t a finger injury after all

Ryan Madson is back for the Nationals. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
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MILWAUKEE – Ryan Madson was placed on the disabled list Aug. 17, interrupting his string of dominance as a National, because he couldn’t throw a baseball without pain in his right index finger. The Nationals termed it a sprain, but the injury was puzzling. Madson couldn’t point to when he hurt it, and he had never dealt with anything like it.

Turns out, the problem wasn’t the finger. Madson’s trusted trainer in Arizona determined the pain there was a symptom, not the cause. He concluded that the discomfort stemmed from his right forearm just above the wrist.

“I pinched my wrist, just by bracing to pick up something, but I didn’t feel it throwing,” Madson said Saturday at Miller Park, a day after he was activated and rejoined the Nationals in Milwaukee. “I just felt this [pulling on the index finger]. Everybody was focused on this, and so was I. So when I got to my trainer in Phoenix, he searched my whole arm and he found out there were things just above my wrist that weren’t communicating.”

When the problem area was identified, he treated it and the painful spot in his finger, which Madson said is called the A4 pulley. Treatment included an accelerated recovery machine, which shoots electric currents. The pain was gone after five days of treatment. He then played catch Tuesday and Wednesday before throwing a 50-pitch bullpen session Thursday. He threw his entire arsenal without a hint of pain in the finger and said he is available Saturday against the Brewers.

“I think the pinching of the wrist is what caused it,” said Madson, who turned 37 on Monday and has thrown nine scoreless innings with the Nationals. “[My trainer] didn’t really elaborate, because it didn’t matter to him. He just knew it was the problem and solved it. But we got two weeks. Probably one more week would’ve been great. But it was time to come back up and see what happens in the game. I’m fairly confident it will be fine.”

While the Nationals avoided the worst with Madson, Manager Dusty Baker said Saturday he isn’t sure if Koda Glover will return this season. Glover has been on the disabled list since June 11 with back and shoulder injuries. He is rehabbing at the Nationals’ facility in West Palm Beach, Fla.

“I’m hoping we get to see him in Miami because the last time we didn’t get to see him,” Baker said. “Can we use Koda? Yeah. But are we counting on that, for him to be sharp and ready? I’m not sure.”

Baker gave Matt Wieters his second straight day off Saturday after he took a foul ball off his right knee in Thursday’s loss. The play prompted the Nationals to call up Raudy Read when rosters expanded Friday to serve as their third catcher just in case. Jose Lobaton will get the start behind the plate again Saturday.

Trea Turner SS
Howie Kendrick LF
Daniel Murphy 2B
Ryan Zimmerman 1B
Anthony Rendon 3B
Jayson Werth RF
Michael A. Taylor CF
Jose Lobaton  C
Max Scherzer P

BREWERS (71-64)
Eric Sogard SS
Eric Thames 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Neil Walker 2B
Stephen Vogt C
Jonathan Villar CF
Hernan Perez LF
Brett Phillips RF
Brandon Woodruff P