- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 10, 2006

CINCINNATI — The Washington Nationals are going to be without right-hander John Patterson for at least the next three weeks because of right forearm tendinitis.

On Monday, Patterson flew to Birmingham, Ala., and was examined by noted orthopaedic surgeon James Andrews, who performed “Tommy John” surgery on Patterson in 2000 when the pitcher was in the Arizona Diamondbacks system. Andrews confirmed the team physicians’ diagnosis that he is suffering from soft tissue inflammation near his elbow and won’t be available to pitch for the Nationals until June 1 at the earliest.

Andrews gave Patterson a cortisone shot and prescribed rest until Friday, when Patterson will play catch. The club’s training staff then will decide what the next step will be for his recovery. For now, there is no rehabilitation start scheduled for Patterson. After 10 days, Patterson will attempt to throw in a bullpen session.

“He knows my elbow,” Patterson said of Andrews. “He really knows me better than anyone. I felt comfortable at that point seeing the three doctors that I’ve already seen. All four doctors said the same thing. That helps put your mind at ease.”

Patterson’s absence has been felt on the pitching staff. He entered this season as the clear No. 2 starter after Livan Hernandez. Patterson is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in four games this season. The Nationals placed Patterson on the 15-day disabled list on April 28.

Nationals manager Frank Robinson says a healthy Patterson would have made a difference for the team. Patterson’s forearm already has caused him to miss at least four starts.

“How much is he missed? You’ve got to be kidding me?” Robinson said. “I can’t put it into words. I would say we probably could have counted on him for at least two wins I would think.”

The bullpen

Last season, the Nationals won a number of close games because of their bullpen, with Gary Majewski, Luis Ayala and closer Chad Cordero pitching the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.

With Ayala out for the season, Robinson was forced to audition other relievers for his role. Now it appears veteran left-hander Mike Stanton is Robinson’s choice as Cordero’s setup man, but Robinson said it’s still an on-going process.

“Results is the thing and I just haven’t found the combination out there yet to give me the consistency that I need,” Robinson said. “If Majewski can turn it around, that would be a big answer to a question of ours and a big plus for the bullpen and would settle a lot of uncertainty.”

Majewski hasn’t pitched since last Wednesday because of tendinitis in his right shoulder and has been held out of the last four games. In his last 82/3 innings of work, he has allowed nine runs with six walks for a 8.31 ERA.

Injury updates

Shortstop Cristian Guzman underwent successful shoulder surgery yesterday in Cincinnati to repair a tear in his right labrum. Tim Kremchek, the Nationals senior orthopaedic consultant and the Reds medical director, performed the procedure.

Guzman will miss the rest of the season, but is expected to be ready for spring training. He will return to Washington tomorrow and begin rehabilitation. …

Catcher Brian Schneider left Saturday’s game against the Pirates with a strained left hamstring and has been listed as day-to-day. …

Catcher/first baseman Robert Fick last night had his most productive game in his rehabilitation assingnment, going 2-for-4 with a solo homer for Class AA Harrisburg against the Altoona Curve.

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To

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