For the first time in a long time, John Patterson sounds like a confident man.
The Washington Nationals right-hander, fresh off a surgical procedure Friday to decompress the radial nerve in his throwing arm, said yesterday he feels as well as he has all year and believes he finally has resolved the injury problems that have plagued him the last two seasons.
"It really helped put my mind at ease," he said during a stop in the Nationals' clubhouse before yesterday's game against the Atlanta Braves. "It's been a huge relief. It really has."
Patterson was operated on Friday by orthopedist David Ruch at the Duke Medical Center in Durham, N.C. Ruch, who has worked with notable athletes like tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams, uncoiled several blood vessels that had wrapped themselves around the major nerve in Patterson's right arm.
Those vessels were compressing the nerve, causing shooting pain through his arm even when he performed normal daily tasks like taking deep breaths.
Ruch told Patterson it won't take long to heal from the procedure. Though his arm was in a sling yesterday, Patterson should be allowed to resume throwing in three weeks. He plans to pitch in the Dominican Republic this winter for the Licey club that will be managed by Washington third-base coach Tim Tolman.
Patterson, whose future with the Nationals remains uncertain, believes he will be 100 percent for the start of spring training.
"Yeah, I have no reason to believe that I wouldn't be," he said. "I feel great. I really do. And it's an answer to the question I've been wondering for a while. My arm's not hurting. They were able to find the cause. So I have no reason to believe that it won't be OK."
Young still ailing
Dmitri Young was not in the Nationals' lineup yesterday, still feeling the effects of the batted ball that hit him in the side of the head Saturday night.
Young, who was experiencing headaches and neck stiffness, doesn't think he will miss much time, but he clearly wasn't ready to get back to baseball yesterday.
Young said he woke up in the middle of the night and had trouble falling asleep again.
"My head was throbbing," he said. "I guess after Tylenol wears off, it's really off."
His status is day-to-day.
Hall of Fame writer Shirley Povich was formally honored yesterday when the Nationals announced they will name the press box at their new ballpark in honor of the late columnist.
Povich, a longtime columnist and editor at The Washington Post, died in 1998 but was a proponent for baseball's return to the District for decades and was friends with now-Nationals owner Ted Lerner.
"We are a greatly appreciative family about this," said Povich's son, television personality Maury Povich. "This is more than anything we could have imagined. It's just a dear tribute to a man who not only deserves it, but he would have been so appreciative."