The Washington Times - September 4, 2009, 11:31PM

The Washington Nationals’ pitching staff lost another starter to a season-ending injury on Friday night when the team learned right-hander Craig Stammen will need arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur in his right elbow.

Team doctor Wiemi Douoguih will perform the operation on Sunday, and Stammen will be out six weeks before starting a throwing program that should have him ready for the start of spring training.

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Stammen said earlier on Friday he didn’t expect to pitch again regardless of how the MRI on his elbow turned out, just because he was two starts away from a preset innings limit.

“I feel bad for Craig. He’s done a good job,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “He actually said it was bothering him as far back as when he was in Triple-A (Syracuse in May). He just thought he could pitch through it, and he did. He did a good job. But it’s a spur in there that’s got to be removed.”

General manager Mike Rizzo also said right-hander Collin Balester will be shut down for the season with a strain under his ribcage on his left side. The treatment called for Balester to be shut down for two weeks and build back up from there, so Rizzo said the team will send Balester home.

Stammen joins Scott Olsen and Jordan Zimmermann as the third Nationals starter to have season-ending surgery, following Olsen’s shoulder operation in July and Zimmermann’s Tommy John surgery in August.

But Rizzo said he wasn’t concerned the injuries indicated a larger problem with how the Nationals handle pitchers.

“Actually, we had a very good year injury-wise,” Rizzo said. “We’ve been very careful with the starting pitchers. At the end of the season, when you get these nagging injuries with young pitchers who haven’t been through that last month of the season as minor-leaguers, this is the real important month.”