The Washington Times - August 3, 2013, 06:44PM

MILWAUKEE — Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Saturday that left-hander Ross Detwiler, who is on the disabled list with a herniated disc in his back, could miss the remainder of the team’s season. That would come as a surprise to Detwiler, who has been progressing well in the last week.

Detwiler visited with renowned back surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles on July 24, and came away from that meeting feeling encouraged that his season was not over. Watkins recommended a month of rest and put Detwiler on an anti-inflammatory medication. 

SEE RELATED:


In the meantime, Detwiler has been allowed to do core stabilization exercises, back and hip strengthening exercises, and some rotational work. He’s also been riding a stationary bike. 

“I’ve been working hard with the therapists,” Detwiler told The Washington Times in a text message. “We are still looking forward to being back this season.”

Johnson indicated on Saturday that, given the length of the rest period and how long Detwiler will have been inactive when it’s over, the process of him getting back to being fully ready to return to the National’s rotation may take too long for him to pitch in MLB games.

“I think the plan is for him to, once he gets through this waiting period, start back throwing, and try to get ready before the end of the year,” Johnson said. “But you have to see if he’s now healthy. You don’t want him to say ‘I feel great, but I’m not going to pick up a ball until Jaunary.’ What if he has a problem in January?

“I think we’ll get him back up on the mound in a throwing program and see how he’s feeling. That’ll decide how we go forward.”

Johnson’s point was that while Detwiler may begin to feel better without doing any baseball activities, they will first need to ease him back into those and see how his back responds. If that goes well, Detwiler will have gone about two months without pitching, and will need to build his arm strength up all over again.

“His arm’s too valuable,” Johnson said. “He’d have to go through almost like spring training again to come back.”

But Detwiler’s progress has been good to this point. And the hope, of course, is that his entire rehab goes smoothly and he will be ready to return to their rotation at some point in September.

From what Johnson said, though, the main goal appears to be that Detwiler gets fully healthy and doesn’t have to worry about the issue in 2014.

The Nationals have relied mostly on right-hander Taylor Jordan to fill Detwiler’s spot in the rotation, and the rookie has performed admirably well. But he is also on an innings limit that is inching closer.

Jordan, who underwent Tommy John surgery in September of 2011, will likely be held somewhere between 130 and 160 innings this season. He enters Sunday’s start with 119 2/3 innings on the year (between the major and minor leagues).

The most likely candidate to replace Jordan would be right-hander Ross Ohlendorf, but that is up in the air as well as Ohlendorf is dealing with some added stiffness and soreness from his 114-pitch start on July 26. He threw just 11 pitches on Wednesday before the Nationals’ training staff pulled him with concerns about his velocity. 

Ohlendorf did say he thinks he will be fine and just needs a bit more rest, which Johnson agreed with.