- The Washington Times - Friday, July 24, 2009

Pitcher Scott Olsen had surgery Thursday morning to mend a small tear in his left labrum, the Washington Nationals said. Team doctor Wiemi Douoguih performed the surgery; he found no more damage than expected, and the team was encouraged by the prognosis.

“We couldn’t have hoped for more,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “The damage seemed to be fairly minimal, and they feel like he’s going to be fine.”

Douoguih conducted the procedure at Washington Hospital Center. Olsen will be out for the rest of the season but hopes to be ready for spring training.

It had been projected that the 25-year-old would need three months before he could start throwing again, but acting general manager Mike Rizzo said Olsen could start a program in as soon as six to eight weeks.

The left-hander met with orthopedist James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday. Though surgery was not necessary to repair the minor tear, Olsen’s doctors decided the procedure was the best choice.

Talking about practice

Recently, the Nationals have been starting their defensive routine earlier than usual. Riggleman said the change began while Manny Acta was still leading the team.

“We started this about a month ago, and it got interrupted by rain,” Riggleman said. “I’m just re-implementing what we were trying to do earlier.”

Players have been on the field 15 to 20 minutes earlier. During the practice, the team focuses on fielding. The Nationals made six errors in the first four games under Riggleman and lost all four. Entering Thursday night’s game against St. Louis, the Nationals had committed one error in their previous three games, winning two of them.

“I think it allows us to get a little more concentrated work,” Riggleman said. “You’ll work on things in spring training, and certain situations don’t come up for a while. We are trying to leave no stone unturned. Hopefully we’ll see some dividends.”

Riggleman vs. La Russa

For Riggleman, a familiar face was in the visiting team’s dugout Thursday. In 1977, Riggleman and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa played together for Class AAA New Orleans, an affiliate of the Cardinals. Riggleman played third base and outfield, and La Russa played several infield positions.

“Everybody on the club learned from Tony,” Riggleman said. “You could tell at that point he was destined for great things. He’s always one to share advice. He’s a real bear to manage against.”

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