- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 24, 2008

With his right wrist still ailing from an injury he suffered more than a month ago, Washington Nationalsfirst baseman Nick Johnson will have surgery Tuesday that could keep him sidelined for the rest of the season.

Johnson, who tore the tendon sheath in his wrist May 13 and hasn’t played since, was examined Monday by hand and wrist specialist Richard Berger at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Berger recommended Johnson have arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to determine the extent of the injury.

The procedure to evaluate the ligaments on the outside of Johnson’s right wrist will help Berger decide what further action is necessary. The Nationals are prepared for the worst.

“We’ll know more tomorrow when they operate,” general manager Jim Bowden said. “But there’s a possibility he might be out for the year.”

Doctors originally predicted Johnson would miss four to six weeks, but when the pain continued to linger in his wrist even after wearing a cast for four weeks, the prognosis changed.

The absence of Johnson from Washington’s lineup already has hurt the offensively challenged club, and it could be a significant blow if he misses the remainder of the season. Though he was hitting just .220 with five homers and 20 RBI at the time of the injury, the veteran first baseman led the club with a .415 on-base percentage.

The 29-year-old has never made it through an entire big league season without suffering an injury, and he missed all of the 2007 season with a broken leg.

Johnson is one of three key Washington regulars on the DL, joining third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and right fielder Austin Kearns.

“It’s been tough,” Bowden said. “It’s a tough year for all of us with this ballclub with injuries. Obviously it’s a setback. It’s disappointing.”

Lannan is fine

The Nationals’ injury report wasn’t all bad Monday. An MRI and a CT scan taken on pitcher John Lannan’s right wrist did not reveal any structural damage, and the left-hander should be able to make his next scheduled start.

Lannan was struck by a line drive in the fifth inning of Sunday’s game against the Rangers. Stunned at first by the shot off the bat of Texas catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the rookie remained on the mound and finished his outing.

He’s wearing a brace for the next couple of days and is receiving ice and heat treatment, but everything is being called precautionary.

“It just basically jammed me,” Lannan said. “I didn’t feel it where it hit me, ‘cause it mostly hit my glove. It felt like a jolt. It’s just a little sore.”

Cordero progressing

Bowden was in Viera, Fla., last week for the start of the rookie Gulf Coast League season and said he was encouraged by what he saw from injured closer Chad Cordero.

Cordero, who has missed most of the season with a torn muscle in the back of his right shoulder, has been throwing off a mound without pain. He also apparently has lost some weight, and Bowden said he could be back after the All-Star break.

“He’s probably in the best shape he’s been in, I think, in his career,” Bowden said. “And mechanically, he looked very sound.”

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