The Washington Times - August 8, 2009, 06:03PM

If you’re Jordan Zimmermann, what’s the last name you want to hear right now? Dr. James Andrews. Unfortunately for the Nationals’ rookie right-hander, an MRI of his injured elbow has been sent to the noted orthopedist, who will look at it Monday and recommend a course of action for the club and its top young pitcher.

Zimmermann, as you know, has been on the DL since July 19. He made a 3 1/3-inning rehab start for Class A Potomac on Tuesday but continues to experience elbow “discomfort.” So the Nats had him undergo an MRI the other day. That MRI, according to acting GM Mike Rizzo, showed “some concerning facts.” Team doctor Weimi Douoguih has taken a look at it. Now Andrews will look at it as well.

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What does this all mean? Well, no one’s saying it publicly yet, but it’s looking more and more like Zimmermann won’t be returning to pitch this season. Even if there’s nothing significantly wrong with the elbow, why would they risk putting him back on the mound during a lost season? And if there is something significant … well, you know how long it takes to return from elbow injuries.

Rizzo was reluctant to speculate at all on what might actually be wrong and how long Zimmermann might be out. But when I asked him if his concern level remains the same today as it was a week ago, he replied: “No, it’s ramped up since the last week.”

As for Zimmermann, he’s trying to take this all in stride and not get too worried. That said, he admitted he’s “concerned.” Ultimately, he’s more focused on his long-term prospects than any short-term hope of returning to the mound.

“I’d like to finish this season out, but if they want to rest me the rest of the season and then come back next year strong, it’s up to them guys, the front office, to figure that out,” he said. “That’s their call.”