PITTSBURGH — John Patterson's trek around the United States in search of answers for his injured right arm will now take the Washington Nationals hurler north of the border.
The right-hander will travel to Toronto to undergo an extensive treatment program he hopes will relieve the nerve irritation that has plagued him for two years and allow him to return to the Nationals' rotation later this season.
Patterson, Washington's Opening Day starter who hasn't pitched since May 5, visited four different doctors in the last week who all concluded the same thing: He is suffering from compression of the radial nerve, which runs down the length of his arm. It's the same diagnosis made by club doctors earlier this season.
"Every one of them got to the conclusion of the same thing that's been diagnosed," manager Manny Acta said before last night's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Patterson's next step will have him go through a somewhat unusual treatment program that recently was performed on Oakland Athletics closer Huston Street. Street, who suffers from a similar nerve ailment, spent 18 days in Canada receiving homeopathic injections, spending time in hyperbaric chambers and working with chiropractors.
According to the Nationals, Patterson chose this program on his own. Acta was aware of some of its basic details but couldn't go into specifics, didn't know when it will begin and said he believed the methods hadn't been approved for use in the United States.
Patterson didn't return messages left for him last night.
The club is setting no timetable for his return, and Acta sounded like he's not counting on the 29-year-old coming back any time soon.
"I'm expecting him to come back. I just don't know when, and I'm really not basing my team on Patterson," Acta said. "We just go along with what we have here. He's been out for a long period of time. We don't know if he's going to come back. I'm just going with what I have."
Logan gets his shot
Nook Logan started in center field last night and led off for the first time this season. It appears to be the beginning of the 27-year-old's final shot at establishing himself with the Nationals.
Logan, who has been platooning with Ryan Langerhans, started against Pirates left-hander Tom Gorzelanny and will get several more starts this week. The Nationals are in a stretch where they are facing left-handed starters five times in six days.
Acta knows what he's looking for out of Logan.
"You have to get on base," the manager said. "I don't care how he does it. He needs to get on base. That's the bottom line. That's what leadoff hitters do. We need him to get on base so he can create some offense for us."
Logan, who has hit mostly eighth when in the lineup this season, said he's looking forward to the opportunity.
"Who wouldn't want to try to lead off?" he said. "See pitches, take pitches, get on base, try to score runs. Anybody who plays baseball, growing up, that's where you want to hit. Everybody in the neighborhood wanted to hit first."
But does Logan (or Langerhans, for that matter) understand the urgency of the situation? Acta has said in no uncertain terms that he expects someone to step up and win the everyday job.
"I think both should feel that way," Acta said. "It's there. They're getting playing time, and they know. How much more chances are you going to get? Somebody has to show something and run away with that job."