Monday, October 02, 2006

NIH: Year End Injury Wrapup Part One

Well, with the season having whimpered to an end, the Nationals officially have 11 players on their DL, not counting Nick Johnson who, due to the fact that the rosters had expanded and there was only one week left of the season, was not placed on the list. Therefore NIH will be doing a series of posts over the next few days talking about who is still injured, what they're injured with, and the prospects of their return. I'm focusing mostly on the 40-man roster, though there were some high profile season ending injuries at the minor league level as well.

I'm going to be doing this in three parts: Pitchers 60-Day, Pitcher 15-Day, and Fielders. I think it says something about our injury woes at pitching that I have to divide it up between two parts.

Let's start with the longest of those three lists, the pitchers who ended the season on the 60-Day DL.

Luis Ayala: The Nationals had some reasons to gripe about the World Baseball Classic. With the exception of Soriano, most of the players who the team sent to the WBC came back to season opening slumps, or worse yet, season-ending shoulder injuries. Ayala should have never been pitching at the WBC, as his shoulder was already in a state that probably would have delayed his 2006 season. When a ligament in the shoulder tore while he was on the mound for Mexico, that was all she wrote. Since then, he's undergone shoulder repair surgery, and extensive rehab. According to Todd Jacobson of the Fredricksburg Free Lance-Star, Ayala is hopeful for his return by Spring Training, and feels like he has "a new arm."

Zach Day: I'll be honest, I forgot Day ever took the mound this season for the Nationals, racking up a 2-5 record through the months of April and May. His last game of the season was May 22 against the Astros, but his injury problems go back to when the Nats picked him up on waivers back in April. At that time, the staff doctor recommended that he needed to be on the DL due to spasms, but he said he was fine to go. Two months later, he left a game early with what was termed at the time simple soreness in his shoulder, but turned out to be tendinitis. That put him on the 15-Day DL. He never quite recovered, and eventually had rotator cuff surgery on June 6th and was placed on the 60-Day DL, where he would spend the rest of the season. His prognosis for the 2007 season should be decent.

Ryan Drese: He pitched 8.2 innings back in April, spanning two starts, and notched up 2 losses in the process. Then, on April 17th had an MRI due to shoulder problems, and it was revealed that he had flexor tendon strain. At the time the prognosis was no surgery needed and a return in 4-6 weeks. Of course, anyone with a calendar could tell you that April 17th was 25 weeks ago today. He suffered a setback in his recover in May when continued inflamation was found by doctors, even though there was no further damage noted. At the time, there was no schedule set for his return. We'll see how he looks in the offseason and whether or not he'll be pitching again anytime soon.

Joey Eischen: With his ERA hovering right around 9.00 for much of the time he played this season, most people were hoping that Eischen would have a limited role. His role was cut to nothing, however, when he tore a muscle in his rotator cuff in late May. It was known at the time that the surgery would be season ending, and marked the third consecutive season he'd made a trip to the DL. He's going to be a free agent this off season, and has already said that he would take a smaller contract to return to the Nationals, likely knowing that it's hard to negotiate contracts from the DL.

Brian Lawrence: The National who never was. He was picked up in the off season in a trade that sent 2005 third baseman Castilla to the Padres. In a sense, his trade was a successful one, even if he never played. Castilla's salary was off the table, his 2006 proved disasterous to the point that the Pads cut him from their roster, and it opened the door for Zimmerman to come in and have a ROTY caliber season. But this is about Lawrence, not any of them. Way back on February 25, he tore his labrum, and was until at least August and likely for the season. Here we are in October, and we know we didn't see him during the sweltering summers nights at RFK. Still, we paid him $3.5 million to never play. This coming season, he's owed either $7.5m to play or a $550,000 buy out of his contract. If he could return to form, he could be a decent cog, but it's unknown whether that $7.5m is within the plans of the new ownership of the team.

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