- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2006

MIAMI — Washington Nationals right-hander John Patterson will undergo season-ending surgery today in the District to repair a nerve in his forearm that has kept him from pitching effectively since spring training.

Patterson, who has made only eight starts and spent two months on the disabled list with a strained forearm, will undergo an exploratory procedure to repair the median nerve and lacertus fibrosis. He’s expected to recover in 21/2 months, which coincides with the end of the Nationals’ season.

Patterson, 28, had resigned himself to this fate for the last week or so. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday, then underwent a series of tests the last two days in the District to confirm the injury.

Patterson said the eventual diagnosis actually represented a best-case scenario in his mind.

“It’s what I was hoping it would be, if that makes sense,” he said by phone yesterday. “I’m just happy there’s a resolution to the problem finally.”

An enhanced MRI and other tests administered by team orthopedist Ben Shaffer revealed that a major nerve in Patterson’s right arm was impinged.

“That’s what was causing the pain and the discomfort,” the pitcher said. “So they’re going to go in and dissect out the nerve and find what’s putting pressure on it and relieve that.”

Patterson began experiencing pain in his forearm back in spring training. He pitched well during four April starts but wound up on the DL with a strain and remained there for two months while the club tried to ease him back into midseason form.

Upon returning to the rotation, Patterson never looked comfortable. He made four starts, averaging less than four innings an outing, and complained of a “dead arm” feeling before the Nationals finally shut him down and sent him back home to be examined.

Manager Frank Robinson, acknowledging his would-be staff ace’s season is now a lost cause, expressed optimism that today’s procedure will solve Patterson’s injury once and for all.

“Probably the worst thing would be to not find anything,” Robinson said. “Because then what’s the problem? What is it, so then we can fix it and he can come back. Until we identify it, it’s tough on him and tough on us. … It’s the rare time where you say you hope they find something wrong.”

Kearns adjusting

Austin Kearns still isn’t feeling totally comfortable in his new surroundings, but the 26-year-old outfielder said he hopes to acclimate himself in short order.

“Each day I get a little more comfortable,” said Kearns, who was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in last week’s eight-player trade. “I don’t feel like I’ve been here a few years or anything like that. But each day I feel like I’m getting more settled in.”

Kearns has struggled at the plate in his first week with the Nationals. He went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks yesterday, making him 3-for-19 since the trade.

Robinson believes both Kearns and Lopez (who is 2-for-25) are pressing too much, something he hopes to correct.

“It’s too early for me to really pass judgment on [Kearns],” Robinson said. “But we’ve got to do some work. Lopez also. That’s just my feeling.”

Kearns won’t blame his trade from a contender to an also-ran for his struggles.

“If I looked at it like that, I’m not going to play good at all,” he said. “So I just come here and focus and try to win. If you get caught up in going from a team that’s in a race to a team that’s in last, it’s only going to make it worse before it gets better.”

Guillen out

Right fielder Jose Guillen did not play yesterday after being removed from Tuesday’s game with a sore right elbow. Guillen, who underwent an MRI, will remain in South Florida and be examined by a local doctor today. The extent of the injury is unknown, but Guillen’s elbow was significantly swollen Tuesday night. He may have aggravated the injury when he made a wild throw between third base and the plate during the first inning Tuesday.

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To submit a question, go to the https://www.washingtontimes.com/sports>Sports Page

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