Sean Burnett will play catch on Saturday, the first chance he’ll get to see if a new anti-inflammatory medicine has helped the soreness in his left elbow. And if all goes well, the Nationals are hoping he’ll be ready to return to action by Monday in New York.
Burnett, who has been with the elbow issue since at least the All-Star break, may be dealing with an inflamed nerve, manager Davey Johnson said Thursday. The hope is that his latest medication and what will amount to nearly a week of rest will calm down the irritation and allow Burnett to return to performing effectively.
He may have some company in the bullpen at Citi Field, as the Nationals could put John Lannan in the ‘pen as an active reliever starting Monday in New York as well.
Lannan threw a bullpen session Thursday afternoon, his second since being called up, as he tries to stay as sharp as possible for when the Nationals slot him into their starting rotation after Stephen Strasburg is shut down.
Initially, Johnson was hoping to get Lannan into the rotation next weekend when the team is in Atlanta to face the Braves, who have trouble with left-handers.
But he said Thursday those plans may have to be altered a bit because the Nationals have an off-day before that series as well as directly following it, which could put some of their pitchers on too many days of rest.
“I may have to revise when I’m going to use Lannan,” Johnson said. “I don’t know for sure yet. It’s still in the works.”
Lannan was reluctant to pitch out of the bullpen at the start of the season, believing that he was a bona-fide major league starter. But with the team making their playoff push, he’s willing to do whatever he can to help and if he can prove to be a reliable left-handed option out of the bullpen, he’s up for trying it.
Johnson may attempt to use him as such when the team is in New York, even if just to get him some work in a game.
“Could be like a tuneup for a start,” Johnson said.