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Lawrence of Labrumia?

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Scott Collins of Nationals Farm Authority is down in lovely Viera, has acquired a media credential, has attended a quote-worthy presser, and is now relaying the Nats' announcement that Brian Lawrence is out until August because of impending shoulder surgery. (Note: I don't know if it's his labrum; it just fits the title. [editor's note, by Basil] According to team doctor Bruce Thomas, it is the labrum.)

This bit of news comes as a surprise, as we all woke up to the report  that Lawrence threw off the mound for eight minutes without pain yesterday. Then again, maybe it shouldn't; just as there seems to be a calm before every storm, invariably there seem to be reports that a player is feeling fine right before the announcement that surgery will put him down for months.

At any rate, the way Scott has phrased his report (via NFA founder Brian Oliver), it looks like the Nats themselves have made the announcement. No "sources" or somesuch relied on here; it looks undeniably legit.

Assuming it is, I don't think this news creates another opportunity to slam Jim Bowden. The financial trade-off between Lawrence and Vinny Castilla is just about square, yes, but Castilla had no role on the Nats---both by circumstance (Zimmerman) and by choice (Castilla did not want to be a first base/third base back-up). Was Lawrence damaged goods? If so, should Bodes have known this? Who can tell?

Regardless, Lawrence's apparent loss hurts the back-end rotation depth. This injury, combined with the news that Pedro Astacio is not inclined to accept a minor league contract/non-roster invite, means the Nats are extra-reliant on Tony Armas and Ryan Drese to be healthy and effective. It also means that Jon Rauch apparently will not be caught in a numbers squeeze, as Rauch is out of options. Finally, it probably means that we should expect to see Andrew Good or another New Orleans-bound, Quad-A quality starter at some point this season.

All in all, this is not the worst news in the world---but, aside from the Rauch angle, it would be extremely hard to spin this positively, obviously. Lawrence has been a thoroughly mediocre pitcher in the past, but a durable one. Those innings, as long as they are not horrible (admittedly, Lawrence was close to horrible last year), have value. It appears we have lost whatever value Lawrence provides for the season's first four months.

Update [2006-2-25 12:54:35 by Basil]: Brian posted a diary at the same time I was writing this post. We have a knack for doing that!

Update [2006-2-25 15:41:38 by Basil]: The Associated Press has now picked up on the story:

Washington Nationals pitcher Brian Lawrence has a torn right shoulder and will be sidelined until the All-Star break. The tear was diagnosed after an MRI test, team doctor Bruce Thomas said Saturday. Lawrence came into training camp hoping to make the starting rotation. Now it's likely he won't return until midseason or later, Thomas said.

Again, unfortunate news, but good job by Scott. First. Right. Wifi-connected.