Thursday, June 29, 2006

NIH: Guess what. Livan's knee. Again

This is starting to seem like just a really bad joke right now, and I for one am not laughing. Livan Hernandez, he of the bum knee all last season, he of the repaired knee in the off season, he of the trade rumors in hopes of flipping him for prospects...

God, it hurts even to say it. But according to the Post, he's reaggrivated the knee. Now, it should be pointed out that he has worked through knee pain in the past, so he's not planning to miss any starts. It's also not the same injury as before, but I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. All I know is this is a team with nine pitchers on the DL right now, and both of the clubs aces have been reported injured the same damn day.

I really wish I had less to blog about. Seriously. Can we stop with the injuries?

NIH: I'm sick of saying this...

Two words I didn't want to write anymore...

Patterson Watch. In just his second start since rejoining the Nationals, Patterson left the game mid-batter during the fourth inning. Yes, he's injured again. Right now they're saying it's fatigue of the arm, but that sounds like a really sketchy and on-the-spot kind of diagnosis that doesn't mean anything. He's being officially listed as day-to-day right now, but we'll see when he can get a more official diagnosis.


NIH: Astacio rehab

As promised, I've been looking for information on Astacio's start yesterday...

It was a decent start up in Connecticut, where the Senators took the win, even if Astacio himself didn't play into the decision. It was only because he didn't stick around in the game long enough to do so, not because of anything he actually did on the mound.

The Box Scores I can find don't seem to believe in pitch count as a stat, but he did face only 13 batters in the four innings that he pitched. The only thing that kept him from facing the minimum was the Defenders first baseman Ishikawa launching one over the wall in the second inning. Astacio did also manage two strikeouts as part of the twelve overall outs recorded.

Not the kind of start that will set the world on fire, but a solid start of the kind the Nationals are hoping to get out of Astacio during his lengthy rehab assignment. I'll be keeping an eye out as to when and at what level his next start will be with.

Aw hell, Hill! Word is that starter Shawn Hill was experiencing stiffness while going against the Blue Jays last night. Hill is expected to be the first guy sent down when the next major league pitcher is ready to rejoin the big league club. I'm suddenly worried as to whether he's going to make it that long, what with our injury luck this season.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

NIH: The lost Nationals

Researching Astacio last night got me thinking about the Lost Nationals pitchers. There were two guys we picked up in the off season who didn't pitch a single regular season game as a National before hitting the DL. Astacio is rehabbing and we might still get a half season out of him, but there's another one, who was injured earlier and is gone for the season.

Yeah, everyone knows Brian Lawrence, I don't know why I'm giving a history lesson about him.

His injury was a rotator cuff tear that was diagnosed during surgery to repair his labrum. What that translates to is the fact that his shoulder was seriously fecked up. Let's look at how a shoulder is assembled. The two major parts of the shoulder that are part of the torso are the clavicle (feel your shoulder, it's the thin bone at the top) and the scapula, or what is termed the shoulder blade in layman terms. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint, which means that the socket that is the labrum accepts the ball joint head of the humerus.

So where's the rotator cuff? It's a series of tendons that covers the front of the joint. Yup, back to those pesky tendons again, seems like everytime I go researching a serious injury, it always comes back to tendons. Tendons are stretchy little bastards, to the point that they were used as a rudimentary form of elastic in some older cultures. Ew, right? But, when they tear or snap, they take a hell of a lot longer to get fixed than a muscle or even broken bone will. That's where all the problems are coming from. These are lingering and crappy things to get injured, but we just keep going down with them.

So. Tendons. They suck. Hopefully we stop hurting them, and I mean now.

Monday, June 26, 2006

NIH: Opening the mailbox!

I just got my first question today, so I thought I'd turn it into a new feature: the NIH Mailbox. Let's go!

Nate asks: What exactly is a forearm strain, and how does one last for 4 months, like Pedro Astacio's injury?

NIH sez: My first instinct is to say that forearm strain is one of those generic kinds of injury names that could include a whole range of actual injuries. I've only ever suffered mild RPI style strain of my Brachioradialis myself, but then again, I also don't put the kind of horrible strains on my arm that a starting pitcher does dozens of times each mound appearance.

As Nate noted, Pedro Astacio hit the long term DL list back in early April with "forearm strain" listed as the official injury. His recovery has been a slow one. He suffered the strain originally during the Beltway home-and-home exhibition series against the Orioles, and reaggrivated it during what was supposed to be a rehabilitation start with the Zephyrs in early June after bouncing around the Nationals minor league teams. Current news is that he will he rehabbing again on Wednesday for the Harrisburg Senators.

But that's not the question.

Medically, strain is defined simply enough as an injury to a muscle or tendon. None of the research I can do will say exactly what muscle and/or tendon in his right forearm that Astacio has injured (there are several to choose from) but strain prognoses can range from recovery times measured in just weeks to recovery times as long as a year. The idea of it taking a full twelve months to work through the strain is obviously an extreme, but it's not uncommon for a medium or severe strain to cause several months of pain. Judging by the way Astacio has been bouncing around, and him being recalled from the Zephyrs so close to his return to the Major League club says that this was at least a moderate strain.

I'll keep an eye out and report on his next rehab start for our AA team. The fact that he's still at that level tells me that he's probably still two rehab starts, at least, away from returning the club, so I wouldn't count on him showing up until closer to the All Star Break, maybe later. Strains can linger.

So. Hopefully that answers the question. If anyone has a question that the NIH Mailbox can tackle, leave them here, and I'll research them as I have time!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

NIH: Johnson back

Johnson Watch What did I say? Huh? What did I say? I said Nick would be back and playing in OPACY, and tonight's game marked Johnson taking first base for the Nationals after a few games off with back soreness. We're in a long rain delay while I'm writing this, but as I'm writing this, he's been up to the plate 4 times, with two walks and two strikeouts.

Let's see, after the game, how his back was feeling.

NIH: JP, JP, won't you pitch for me?

Patterson Watch I'm hoping it's the last time I'll be typing those words this season, as the Big Nasty was back, and back strong. Unfortunately, he got crap in the way of run support, so got sacked with a loss his first time back on the mound for the big league club. He made it through six full innings, allowing two runs on six hits among three strikeouts. Not the strongest outing he's ever had, but it's a good sign that he can be throwing the kinds of games he threw last year.

Here's hoping, at least.

The one question I'd had with Patterson ready to return was who would get sent down in order to make room for him on the 25-man roster. The answer wasn't one that might not have been the most intuitive, but wasn't entirely unexpected after last weeks MRIs. Yup. Tony Armas Jr. has hit the DL, retroactive to Wednesday. The official reason listed is forearm strain. He will be next eligable to pitch on the 5th against the surging Marlins.

I think that's a requirement right now, to call the Marlins "surging."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

NIH: Prognoses, Day-to-day

Say something about the condition of the Nationals players right now that I had to look up the plural of "prognosis" to make sure I got it right. So, here goes.

Armas: Armas has gotten a cortisone injection in his arm to counter some soreness and swelling that was revealed through an MRI. Now, I always hear about players getting cortisone, so I did a quick look up on what it is and what it does. Cortisone is a secondary hormone that is often released along with adrenaline in times of stress which has the effect of supressing the immune system, and is seen as one of the primary reasons that stress can lead to illness. Nasty stuff. I assume that the immune supression is the goal, though, to try and get the swelling down, since that's an immunoresponce to...I don't know exactly what. Armas will be reevaluated in three days.

Johnson: Johnson is only being listed as day-to-day right now. That's the good news. The bad news is that he's apparently reaggrivated an injury that kept him out of a significant chunk of the 2004 season. I don't think it's a surprise to anyone who follows the Nationals that Johnson is officially considered injury prone, and that's one of the reasons that the Yankees were willing to part with him. The official injury is a lumbar strain. For those of you who don't have lumbar support chairs, that's the region right at the base of the spine, just north of the waist. That's the kind of back problem I tend to get myself, and I know that it can be pesky, unpredictable, and painful. From one sufferer to another, I wish him a speedy recovery, above and beyond just wanting him back on the field.

Patterson: To close with good news, Patterson is listed as our probably pitcher tomorrow night in OPACY. Here's hoping we can turn around from that 26-9 drubbing the Sox gave us.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

NIH: A run down on the run down

I may have spoken too soon about Nick Johnson. He and Tony Armas Jr were both shipped back to DC to have a once over by the team doctor. These examinations would decide whether Johnson would DL retro to this past Saturday and Armas retro to Tuesday. That would mean that Johnson would be eligable for return no sooner than the July 1 game against the Devil Rays, and Armas would next be eligable to start on Independance Day. Of course, those are both earliest possible return dates.

Johnson is having problem in the left side of his back. Back pain is a tricky thing, something I know entirely too well from experience. It could be that it starts loosening up tomorrow, it could be something serious that sidelines him for awhile. Obviously the hope is to get him back in the lineup as soon as possible, but healthy trumps fast when you're just playing for divisional ranking.

The other shocker? Soriano. It's being reported that he was wearing an ice pack on his right hand before tonight's game against the Red Sox. He's been experiencing soreness since batting practice on Monday. He's still in and playing, though, but he might not be getting all he can get out of that powerful bat of his.

I'm looking for good news, ANY good news, so here it is. Tim Foli, who I reported was hospitalized with heat exhaustion, is expected to be helming the Zephyrs again tomorrow. Huzzah for a speedy recovery for Foli. He'll be joining the team in Oklahoma City, destroying the earlier news I'd heard about him waiting for the club to return to New Orleans. Perhaps the 3-8 record they've had with him gone has pushed him back a little earlier?

NIH: When will his back let him come back?

NJ Watch I figured his past injury history would mean I'd have to eventually report about Johnson in the NIH. His back is still giving him some problems, and it looks at this point like he will not be playing any games in Fenway, but should be back against the Orioles. Here's to hoping. Apparently his back is feeling better, but there are still occasional twinges.

Here's hoping for a speedy return.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Wait! Don't worry, this isn't an NIH post!

I know this has been covered ad nauseum, but dadgum, I've watched the Zimmerman home run more times than I should admit to, and everytime I get the same wonderful flutter in my stomach when he connects with the swing. Probably one of the three biggest home runs in the history of the New Nats right now (ranking with the Grand Slam at RFK last season, and Vinny's homer in the 2005 home opener).

Just...wicked kickass, even better in front of a huge crowd, even better against the Yankees. Just wanted to say that, even if everyone else has already said it.

NIH: Bad NIH, No Biscuit

Well, looks like a day-to-day snuck by me, which is odd, since I did notice that Nick Johnson wasn't playing this weekend, but didn't think of checking on why. Just figured he'd been playing all season, and needed a night or two off. Turns out that his back is giving him some minor problems, which has caused him to be scratched from the lineup for the short term. Yesterday he wasn't even allowed to take batting practice so as not to tweak it, and instead was treated to massages.

Ya know, I need to be told I can't work and need to get massaged instead.

Anyway, these are my guesses and not any inside knowledge. If he wasn't swinging a bat yesterday, I don't expect him to play today, and I'm not sure about tomorrow either. He'll be back in the lineup before the road trip ends, I'm rather certain of that, but whether his return will happen in Fenway or OPACY, it's anyone's guess right now.

Should have confirmation of him being out of the lineup in another half hour to hour.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

NIH: Patterson rehab number three

Patterson Watch: Another week, another rehab start for John Patterson. This time it was back to the other Nationals club as the Big Nasty had his second start for the Potomac club. The PNats themselves walked away with a loss in the game, but unlike his last start in PW County, Patterson was not put on the hook for it.

Instead, he pitched 5.1 innings of, if not the most inspiring ball, at least a longer outing combined with more domination of hitters. Among 5 runs, all earned, he also put away 7 batters with strikeouts, and walked off the field with a lead that was quickly squandered. All-in-all an odd game resulting in the Orioles high-A Keys walking off with a 9-8 victory.

Patterson is said to have felt comfortable with the start, which is great news. The standard rotation would have him showing up in OPACY to face the big league Orioles. Interviews say he's ready to get back, but it hasn't yet been verified that he'll be back to the rotation when he's supposed to be. Here's hoping.

Tim Foli I reported a few days ago that the manager of the Zephyrs had been hospitalized with symptoms of heat exhaust. I'm thus thrilled to report that his recovery is going well, and he's eager to get back to coaching the big Zs. He's also been doing some scouting during the leave of absense. Likely he won't be joining the team during their current road trip, but will likely be in charge when the team gets back to New Orleans.

Friday, June 16, 2006

NIH: Just try not to swallow

Anyone who's seen the last few mound appearances from our bearded Texan pitcher might think that he's looked, well, very un-Majewski-like when throwing the ball. Looks like there may be a reason for that. Washington Post is reporting that Majewski is getting over a bout of strep throat that was hurting his energy levels for awhile. Now, I'm not sure if strep itself causes energy loss, but not being able to eat comfortably due to a raw throat might. Hopefully he's over it, and can look more like his old self this weekend series against the Yankees.

Heaven knows we'll probably need all the help we can get.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

NIH: Back to Potomac

Patterson Watch Well hell, those were words I was hoping not to use until Saturday when I came back from the game and reported how he looked against the Yankees. Patterson will be pitching on Saturday, that hasn't changed. All that changed is where he'll be pitching. He'll be down in Prince William Country pitching for the P-Nats, where his night will be limited to 6 innings or 90 pitches. The stated reason is to let him get more curve back in his curveball before coming back to the big league club. I wonder how much of it was a confidence thing. Projecting ahead, his next start for the big league club will now not be against the power hitting Yankees, but against the more lackluster Orioles.

So there you go, new return date will probably Friday, June 23rd up in OPACY.

Monday, June 12, 2006

NIH: Recoveries

First, we here at the Nationals Institute of Health would like to extend our best wishes to Tim Foli, manager of the AAA Zephyrs. He'll be out for about a week and a half after being hospitalized with symptoms of heat exhaution. Here's to wishing for a speedy recovery.

Guillen Watch: He's back, and he's back big. Guillen pounded in two of the Nationals three runs tonight, going 2 for 3, and launching a homer over that back fence of RFK that has long proven so elusive to him. That means that, since coming back from the DL, he's sitting on 4 hits, 2 runs, and 4 RBI in 7 at bats. Not a bad pair of games for Guillen, and here's hoping that he's back and better than ever.

Patterson Watch: Patterson had his second rehab start today. The game is still going on as I write this, but Patterson hit his pitch count limit during the 5th inning. Final numbers in 4.2 innings: 4 hits, 2 runs, 1 earned run, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts. Very firm and decent outing for Patterson. I'll digest all the post game interviews tomorrow morning, but that he went all the way to his pitch count limit means he was likely feeling no discomfort, so anyone who'll be at Saturday's game should get to see his return.

NIH: Rehab number the Second

Patterson Watch Tonight's the night, Patterson will be hurling for the AAA New Orleans Zephyrs in what is hoped to be the last rehab start before he returns to the big league club. He will be going 75 pitches or 5 innings, whichever comes first. If all goes well, he will be on the mound for the Nationals against the New York Yankees this coming Saturday (a game I have tickets to, so that excites the hell out of me, nice when I can do some kind of actual in-person NIH work).

Other than that, the Nationals have been surprisingly injury free the last week or so. We've had the scattered missed game by a starter, but mostly just standard resting starts without any associated day-by-day injuries. I'll tell ya what, considering the beat that this blog covers, I really wouldn't mind having nothing to report for awhile.

Probably means a good time to catch up on some of the more generic postings.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

NIH: Defensive Substitution...

Guillen Watch, and quite literally a Guillen Watch, since I got to watch Guillen in person today. I was going to get back and report on yesterday's double header (First game 1 hit in 2 AB with a run, second 1 hit, 3AB, 1 run, 2 RBI), but that was immediately made completely obsolete news during today's game in RFK stadium. Everything I'd seen about Guillens return said that, while he was eligable to return today, he likely wouldn't. Or at least the quote from Frank Robinson saying that he wouldn't be back until 100%, which made it sound like he wouldn't be coming back immediately. However, there he was, taking the field in the top of the 8th inning. He only had one at bat, and popped right up in the process. But he is back.

Now, how long he'll stay is another question, since he is the topic of so many rumors as being on the trade block. Be interesting if we get to Guillen bobblehead day (July 7) and he's no longer a National...

Friday, June 09, 2006

NIH: Patterson a Zephyr

In a semi-exclusive interview with Brian Oliver of the Nationals Farm Authority*, the Nationals Institute of Health has learned that Patterson's Monday rehab start will be for the AAA Zephyrs as they take on the visiting Iowa Cubs. Check out this space on Monday for a pitch-by-pitch run down of all 70 throws! Okay, maybe not, but at least I'll be watching the MiLB Game Tracker and giving my thoughts.

*Semi-exclusive interview here means that he mentioned it in Friday's Gameday Chat, I asked his source, then wandered over here to make a quick update entry.

NIH: Potomac Nationals Indeed

Guillen Watch Guillen snuck under my radar and made his way onto the Potomac Nationals roster for some rehab games, which is some good news. Or, at least, some news. He went 0-for-2 against the Keys in action last night, but left the game early because of a wet field and fears that he might reinjure himself with a slip. There's a double header tonight, and Guillen has been quoted as saying he's all for it, and would love to be back in RFK this Saturday.

Of course, there's still Robinson saying he wants Guillen to be 100%. Afterall, he's more lucrative as trade bait if he's 100%. Not, um, that anyone is officially saying that in any way, oh no.

Patterson Watch Patterson should have a 70-pitch game on Monday, possibly for Potomac. I haven't seen that he'll be anywhere other than Potomac, so I'm taking that as given until I hear differently. If this start goes as well as the last one, his next game will be for the big league club.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

NIH: Rehab Start the First

It's John Patterson Watch time tonight. Patterson took the mound tonight against the Winston-Salem Warthogs, which always puts me in an odd spot, since I was a Warthogs fan while in college at Wake Forest. Twas back when I was fed up with the Orioles, had no Nationals, and they were in town. But that's neither here nor there.

Patterson was only kept in for 10 outs, four of which he fanned. However, he also put up one earned run and ended up sacked with the loss. The start probably gave him some deja vu from the 2005 season. Decent outing, no run support, saddled with a loss. Oh well.

Anyway, Nationals Farm Authority got to ask a few questions of the Big Nasty, so I'll conceed that I'm outclassed tonight, and point you that way. That's what a Potomac Nats press pass can do for a guy.

Patterson will have at least one more rehab start. As of this writing, it's uncertain which club it will be with. Would seem to make sense just to keep him local in Potomac, but an interview with the man himself on the Nationals website reveals he expects to be pitching in the Mississippi Delta the next time he's hurling. Then, hopefully, it'll be back to the big league club.

Will be great, since our bats are starting to wake up, so getting one of our best pitchers back could lift the team that much higher.

Guillen Watch I'm trolling the news, and I can find only two things that anyone is saying about Guillen. One, he's eligable to return Saturday. Two, he probably won't return Saturday. From Frank Robinson: “As far as I know, yes, he’ll be physically ready... Sharp and game ready? That’s going to take a while.” So there you have it. I guess.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

NIH: Double the surgery, double the fun!

Nationals have two different pitchers scheduled to officially go under the knife for their respective season-ending surgeries. Zach Day will be undergoing repairs of his right rotator cuff, and Eischen his left. The surgeries will both be taking place in the city of Cincinnati, which it should be pointed out is apparently the home town of the Nationals. Who knew?

Ryan Zimmerman sat again last night. The Nationals, through Jenifer Langosh of, are reporting that he should be okay to play tonight. His problem is still being listed as soreness and spasms in his back with no more information about what his problems may or may not be.

The winning pitcher last night for the New Orleans Zephyrs was named Pedro Astacio. That's a name that hasn't been bandied around in quite awhile, but he is starting to have rehab starts. Astacio threw 63 pitches in 6 complete innings, allowing two runs on four hits. Of course, we should all hope that a pitcher we consider one of our major league level guys is able to generate some outs going against a AAA club, so the big news is more that he pitched at all. Better than his last start for the Zephyrs, which was 61 pitches in 4.0 innings and getting pegged for the loss to Omaha.

Patterson is still scheduled to go tomorrow against the Winston-Salem Warthogs.

Monday, June 05, 2006

NIH: Zimmerman? Not Zimmerman!

Brendan Harris was playing third base on Sunday as the Nationals completely a sweep of the Brewers. Now, that by itself isn't any problem, Zimmerman deserves days off, and I'm not expecting him to flirt with Ripken's record in another decade. However, it does worry me that the stated reason was not to give him a day off because he's earned one, but rather because he's having back spasms.

Now, there's nothing inherently wrong with back spasms, and that's just a day-to-day kind of injury where a player might get benched the day game after a night game. It's just still a little worrisome that our young buck is having some twinges already.

Patterson watch: John Patterson is scheduled to be the starting pitcher for the Potomac Nationals this coming Wednesday. Now, he's had several rehab starts pushed back, but this time there's finally signs that he's ready to start the rehab. His last bullpen session went just fine, throwing 45 pitches with no report of pain or discomfort. He'll probably go four to five innings, and everthing I'm seeing says this won't be the only rehab start he has down in PW County.

Guillen watch: Today is day 11 of Guillen's trip to the 15-day DL. Now, I'm not so new at this that I think the 15-day DL means he'll be gone exactly that amount of time, but that will be the minimum until we can start looking at him. Unfortunately, I've seen no updates on his condition at any point during while I've been home. Just pulled hamstring with some people (perhaps lightly) concerned there might be one or more other injuries that the Nationals aren't talking about. He is due to extended Spring Training early this week, and that chance to test the injury will give a better idea at how bad it is, and when he might be expected back.

His return may be delayed, as Robinson is quoted saying he wants Guillen back at 100%, not just 85% or 90%.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

NIH: Stop getting injured!!!

Eesh, still haven't had the time to get my head fully out of my ass since my vacation, and we put another player on the DL? Dear lord. Alright, let's see what I can get out of this most recent one.

Yesterday, Santiago Rameriz got placed on the 15 day DL, retroactive to May 30. Now, am I the only one saying "Santiago who"?? Seriously, we're starting to accrue injuries to players who I didn't even realize were Nationals. Looking at his stats, he's pitched just 3.1 innings since being called up on May 23rd. That would go a long way to explain why I haven't heard of him, since his entire Nationals career was while I was on vacation, apparently.

So. Not going to waste much time on him and his 8+ ERA. He strained his right elbow. I don't see anything about a prognosis, but I think there are bigger issues with the team right now than whether a AAA relief pitcher gets himself healthy again.

The pitcher I'm worried about is John Patterson. He's thrown a simulated game, and he's going to throw another one before he gets a rehab start. I assume they rest him the same amount between simulated games as he would get between actual starts, so that means that his return to the Nationals is still likely more than a fortnight away. He may even get two rehab starts, which pushes the timeline back that much more.

With the team starting to finally click, getting his arm back into the rotation would be a HUGE help, though it's obviously better to get him back healthy than fast, since we're not in any place where we need wins to stay in a race. Be nice to have him back if the rumors of Livan being trade bait are true.

Joey Eischen is being listed as out for the season, and is firmly on the 60-day DL. I don't think that really comes as a surprise to anyone. The way he was pitching this season, I think a lot of people thought something was up. With his ERA 5 points above his career totals, and with him throwing away games left and right, there seemed to be a problem. Turns out it was left rotator cup, and the muscle therein, which is torn. That gives the Nationals six pitchers on the 60-day. I'd have to do some research, but I think we probably have the deepest DL of anyone in the league with 12 total players.

Guillen is on the DL with a strain. Hopefully he'll be able to come back soon, but strains can be nasty and unpredictable things. As with Patterson, it's better to get him back healthy that quick. I'll keep an eye out for updates on his condition.

PHEW! I think I'm caught up now.