The Washington Nationals had better start putting a contingency plan together to fill a potential hole in the pitching rotation because early indications are that the team's star hurler John Patterson may -- may -- not be ready for the start of the season.
Patterson, who had begun his winter workout regimen weeks ago, decided to go easy after experiencing discomfort similar to that he sustained as he came back from the disabled list after the end of last season. Initially he had hoped that several days rest would allow him to resume throwing, but a subsequent medical examination reportedly has revealed constriction, inflammation, agitation or tension that caused discomfort in the inner elbow within the past two or three weeks.
While Patterson has said he has no health issues coming back from rehab, and that his forearm has recovered and he feels fine and will be ready to report to spring training, his remarks are somewhat questionable -- or perhaps overly optimistic -- given that June or July ordinarily would be more realistic return dates for a pticher having undergone such surgery.
Unconfirmed indications are that -- barring an unexpectedly bright prognosis -- Patterson may possibly have difficulty not only throwing but even reaching full extension of his arm after he continues throwing on a daily basis.
Patterson's potential sidelining would result in an alarming shortage of arms for the Nationals, who had only two slots -- if that -- fixed in the rotation even if Patterson is available. His cheery demeanor, however, should do nothing to dampen ticket sales while fans await his first spring outing.