Nationals reliever Sean Burnett will not test his sore left elbow with throwing off a mound until at least this weekend as he hopes a new anti-inflammatory medication will do the trick.
Burnett, who has been dealing with the elbow issue since at least the All-Star break, was prescribed a new anti-inflammatory this week along with extended rest when he decided it was no longer fair to his teammates for him to continue to pitch through pain when his effectiveness was declining.
Twenty-one of the 56 batters he faced in August reached base and he allowed 16 hits in his last six innings of work. His ERA in that stretch is 3.86 and opponents hit .353 off him
The Nationals currently have no plans to send Burnett for an MRI or any further testing, but how he feels after testing his arm off a mound this weekend will be a good indicator as to how they’ll proceed with him going forward.
– Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Wednesday that it’s “conceivable” that Chien-Ming Wang could get a start or two near the end of the season for the Nationals.
Wang, who has spent most of the season on the disabled list and more of his career in a Nationals’ uniform making minor league rehab starts than he has pitching for the big league team, threw a bullpen on Tuesday and plans to throw another one on Friday. Johnson informed the sinkerballer that he’d plan to monitor Friday’s bullpen and decide after that whether or not Wang could make a start late in the season.
“Some of the clubs we’re going to be facing down, the last part of the season, are predominantly right-handed hitting ballclubs,” Johnson said, describing, for one, the St. Louis Cardinals. “I had a chat with him today ‘I said I want to see you throw on the side.’ He’ll throw the day after tomorrow. But it won’t be until after I see him throw (that I’ll make a decision).”
Before panic breaks out that the Nationals would use Wang, who pitched very poorly on his most recent minor league rehab starts, to start a game for the big league team, it’s important to remember that the Nationals are in a position where they could have a handful of games to play after they clinch a playoff berth or even a divisional crown.
Obviously there’s a long way to go for them to get to that point, but if they get there, they will still need to play the games that come after that point and it might make sense for Wang to start one of those.