- The Washington Times - Friday, June 24, 2005

Washington Nationals reliever T.J. Tucker will undergo season-ending right elbow surgery Tuesday in Birmingham, Ala.

Orthopedist James Andrews will perform the procedure. An MRI taken on Tucker’s elbow revealed a partially torn collateral ligament, and a re-evaluation yesterday confirmed he needed Tommy John surgery.

Nevertheless, Tucker was upbeat about a surgery once considered career-ending.

“Seventy-five percent of the guys in the big leagues that have this surgery come back stronger,” Tucker said. “I’ve been sitting on it for a while; it’s just better to get it over with.”

Tucker, who missed time earlier in the season with a strained right groin, said the two injuries were unrelated.

“When I came off the [disabled list], I was throwing 88 and 89 miles per hour but nothing on the ball. It was like a dead arm,” Tucker said. “I just couldn’t get off throwing with just a slider. I couldn’t keep [going] out there and hurting the team any more.”

Tucker went 1-0 with a 6.39 ERA in 122/3 innings this season. In 13 games, Tucker allowed nine runs on 20 hits, including four home runs, and struck out five.

Presidential audience

President Bush attended last night’s game along with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the president’s younger brother.

The president, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the club’s home opener April 14, decided to attend last night’s game at the last minute according to a White House pool reporter.

On Opening Day, the president’s appearance at RFK Stadium created massive security problems, including long lines at metal detectors from the sellout crowd trying to get into the first baseball game in the District in 34 years.

Church out

Outfielder Ryan Church’s game-saving catch Wednesday in Pittsburgh cost the rookie a few games in the lineup.

Church, a National League rookie of the year contender with a .325 batting average, was held out of the lineup with a left shoulder contusion. X-rays and a CT scan came back negative for Church, who robbed the Pirates’ Humberto Cota of at least a double as he slammed into the wall.

“I can’t lift my left arm,” Church said. “I’ve got swelling there, and I’ve got swelling in my collarbone, but nothing is broken. That’s the big thing.”

Church hinted he may sit out this weekend’s series against Toronto because Monday is an off day.

“I’m going to be out a couple days,” Church said.

Vidro’s setback

Second baseman Jose Vidro tweaked his right knee while working out at RFK on Thursday.

Vidro, on the 15-day DL since May 9 with a torn left ankle tendon, said yesterday the setback may postpone his return to the lineup. However, he is confident he can return before the All-Star break.

“The All-Star break is still three weeks away, right?” Vidro said. “I definitely think I’ll be back, but I don’t want to put a date on it right now.”

Vidro said he was running bases when he felt something move inside his knee but does not consider the injury serious.

“I need some time to get my legs ready,” Vidro said. “That’s all part of it because I’ve been out six or seven weeks almost and I haven’t done anything for my legs. I’ll be OK. Right now, it feels much better than it did yesterday.”

Extra bases

Injured pitcher Zach Day (fractured forearm) will throw on the side today and pitch in a simulated game Tuesday. … Injured reliever Antonio Osuna (shoulder) will begin rehab throwing at the Nationals’ Viera, Fla., spring training facility Monday. He will not play with the club’s Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

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