As the Washington Nationals transition from digesting their loss in Game 5 of the National League Division Series to figuring out their offseason, one thing they’ll have to do is decide which of their injured players will be able to heal with rest and which will require offseason surgery.
First up will be Sean Burnett, who’ll likely be getting bone spurs removed from his aching left elbow. According to a person familiar with the situation, that is the most probable route for the Nationals’ left-hander though he and the team will not know for sure until mid-week.
Burnett pitched with pain in his elbow for most of the second half of the season, if not longer. It was first brought to light shortly after the All-Star break but the team was able to keep it under control with anti-inflammatories for much of the second half.
There were only few occasions that the issue affected Burnett’s performance, though, and even on Friday night, when he faced one batter and did not break 88-mph with any of his pitches.
Burnett is one of the most well-liked players in the Nationals’ clubhouse and his willingness to fight through pain to help the Nationals is certainly part of why that is. It’s also uncertain whether or not he’ll remain a National.
The lefty has a $3.5 million mutual option on his contract for the 2013 season. If the Nationals decline their end of the option, Burnett would get a $250,000 buyout and reach free agency.
There’s never a guarantee on what players can get in free agency but with Burnett’s 2.38 ERA this season and his ability to pitch in late-game situations he’d likely be sought after.
The Washington Post was the first to report Burnett’s probable surgery.