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Pregame notes: Gorzelanny's elbow inflammation, Balester recalled, checking in with LaRoche and other notes

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Nationals left-hander Tom Gorzelanny had an MRI on his left elbow Friday night and while it did reveal some inflammation, it didn’t show any structural damage or anything more than the inflammation that has been causing him some pain since his last start.

Following his last start Monday night in Milwaukee, Gorzelanny was unable to really let things go in his throwing session on Tuesday. Having gone through a disastrous injury-plagued 2008 season with the Pirates, Gorzelanny didn’t want to take any chances. He did not throw Wednesday but tried to throw Thursday and was not satisfied that the pain had subsided. 

The Nationals will shut him down for the next few days and begin to ramp him back up from there. The first day he’d be eligible to come off the disabled list would be May 8 when the Nationals are in San Francisco.

“Just felt more like I hyperextended my elbow or one of those things and every time I hit the extension point it was a little sore,” he said. “I just didn’t want to risk it. I’ve done it before and tried to pitch through pain and bad things happen. I don’t want to do it again. I’m just going to take it easy here and I don’t expect to miss much.”

Gorzelanny, who struggled through shoulder and finger issues in 2008, said that not being honest with his team and himself at the time about the issues affected him both mentally and physically, physically for the rest of 2008 but mentally for the next few years.

“I’m a little bit smarter now, a little more of an adult now,” Gorzelanny said. “Just want to take care of it. Something this minor, it doesn’t matter that much because it’s only going to be a couple starts.”

– Replacing Gorzelanny on the roster, at least for Saturday, is Collin Balester, recalled from Triple-A Sryacuse this morning. Balester got the word around midnight last night and was on his way to Washington. His stay is going to be short lived, however, as the Nationals will need a starter for Sunday.

Balester was 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA in 13 relief appearances with Syracuse this season. He threw 3 1/3 innings with the major league team in April.

Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said that the team is not considering pushing his starters up a day and that the team will most definitely be calling up a starter from the minor leagues. Chances are that starter will be Yunesky Maya, who will be pitching on five days rest. Ross Detwiler is also a candidate and he’d be on regular rest. Brad Meyers could be considered as well but he’d be throwing on three-days rest so chances are he wouldn’t be the guy.

It will be the first time all season that the Nationals will need to use a starter other than the five they broke spring training with in their rotation — the only team in the major leagues to go this far without needing a sixth starter. It’s a testament to the durability and effectiveness of the Nationals rotation to this point.

“That’s big,” Riggleman said. “That doesn’t happen anymore in today’s world, unfortunately. Very few teams go weeks, never mind we’ve gone a couple of months, with the same five guys making every start and going pretty deep in the game every time.”

– Adam LaRoche, who went to get another opinion on the torn labrum in his left shoulder on Monday, said the doctors found a significant tear this time — a different report than when they first examined the shoulder in spring training. It had clearly gotten worse, something LaRoche was prepared for in the back of his mind every time he would let a particularly hard throw go and would suffer through pain for the next day or so.

LaRoche will be shut down for the next 2-4 weeks and the Nationals will reevaluate his strength and pain level after that when he begins to swing a bat again but the next step would be surgery — a procedure that would almost definitely be season-ending.

– Catcher Ivan Rodriguez, the subject of trade rumors immediately after San Francisco catcher Buster Posey went down with a broken leg Wednesday night, missed Friday’s game to be in Florida for the high school graduation of his son, Ivan “Dereck” Rodriguez.

It could be an exciting couple of weeks for the younger Rodriguez, an outfielder (who also pitches), who has committed to play at Santa Fe Community College in Florida but could be drafted by a major league team during the first-year player draft on June 6. 

The elder Rodriguez said his son has received interest from a few teams — including Texas and Minnesota — and while his father would prefer he try out college for at least a few years, if he gets drafted high enough, turning professional could certainly be on the table.

Here’s a profile from the Miami Herald about Dereck.

– Rick Ankiel is leading off today as Roger Bernadina gets a day off but Ankiel getting slotted atop the lineup has more to do with keeping the rest of the lineup intact than it does with his abilities as a leadoff hitter. It is Ankiel’s first start since returning from the disabled list on Tuesday.  

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About the Author
Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at acomak@washingtontimes.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.

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