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And my best friend, my doctor, won't even say what it is I got

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I caught the report on Brian Lawrence's labrum tear tonight on Comcast SportsNet. What a waste; the guy threw about a dozen pitches and winced in pain. He went through the motions for a few days, hoping to come around, but the MRI had other ideas. Game over, man. Game over.

I confess the sequence of events strikes me as disquieting in its apparent randomness. I recall an episode of Band of Brothers where Easy Company is holed up in the Bastogne. For much of the episode, the Germans are hammering away with artillery, and Easy Company is taking heavy losses. In one strike notable for its . . . I don't know . . . random accuracy, a German mortar scores a direct hit on the foxhole occupied by Penkala and Muck. I don't remember if this is mentioned in the episode or in the book, but all that remained were pieces of their sleeping bag.

Ask Lawrence, and I'm quite certain he would prefer the torn labrum. Still, the suddenness of his loss is disturbing. Take a look at these stat lines and tell me you saw "torn labrum" upcoming. Lawrence's peripherals were pretty consistent---as the joke would go, a little tooooooo consistent. But that's not exactly a diagnosis; should the Nats have made one, albeit more professionally? I'm in no position to say, of course.

Whatever the case, it's time to update the scorecard, if you're scoring Lawrence's injury at home (or even if you're alone with Dr. James Andrews): according to published reports, Lawrence sports a rotator cuff tear to go along with the labrum tear.

Lawrence is now definitely done for the season. Let's hope he can make it back in '07 and thereafter.

In the meantime, the Nats are one of four teams courting Pedro Astacio, while attempting to induce the Red Sox . . . not only to trade David Wells but pay most, if not all, of Wells' salary?!

Whoa.

In the meantime, let's just assume nothing happens, transactionally-speaking. Okay, that's a virtual impossibility for a Jim Bowden-team. I'll have to do better; instead, let's say the current starting candidates are the very same starting candidates on March 1 and March 15 and April 1. That's better---well, worse, but more precise.

Anyway, to get to the point, a lot of responsibility now falls on the right arm of Ramon Ortiz. Essentially, he has to be what the Nats were banking Lawrence on being: the innings-eater in the middle slot of the rotation. In other words, the guy who lends a bit of stability between the top two of Hernandez/Patterson and the bottom two of Whoever/Whomever.

Out of the remaining starter candidates (Ortiz, Tony Armas, Ryan Drese, and Jon Rauch), Ortiz is the best bet---perhaps the only bet---to remain healthy enough and marginally effective enough to soak up 200 innings pitched. Granted, Ortiz hasn't actually done so in a few seasons, but he's healthy and, by happy coincidence, getting good pub today. Jose Rijo likes what he sees and, for good measure, has taught Ortiz a backdoor slider.

We'll see. We'll hope.

* * *

Around the Natosphere re: the Lawrence injury, with the salient points provided:

  • Capitol Punishment: explanation of what a torn labrum is; exploration on why Lawrence's loss, while damaging, isn't the end of the world---especially since the team isn't going to compete, anyway. (Also, check out---if you dare---the most disturbing personal ad you ever did see.)
  • Nats Triple Play: unfortunate loss, but in agreement that Bodes can't really be slammed for this; wants answers whether the medical staff should have detected this, especially in light of some questionable diagnoses in the past; really excellent point that depth is great to talk about, but five (count 'em five: Vargas, Day, Ohka, Kim, Rasner) cast-away starters also demonstrate that talk can be cheap.
  • Beltway Boys: Watergate-themed inquiry into what Pads' GM Kevin Towers knew and when he knew it; also, whether Bodes knew anything at all.
  • Distinguished Senators: Armas/Drese/Ortiz = three opposites of a sure thing; Rauch is not only really tall but is coming off this labrum thing; great point that Patterson is following up a heavy workload; bonus point that, if Guzman's being benched, Nats might as well go all the way and chuck up Soriano at short for kicks.
  • Just a Nats Fan: Custer has nothing on Lawrence; "Everthing felt good" is euphemism for "Duck!"; curious that Lawrence passed team physical then got injured faster than you could say "Tinactin."
  • Oleanders & Morning Glories: Ortiz may be key (did I steal that from Harper?); may make trading Soriano or Vidro more imperative (tie-in to Wells rumor?).
As a sidenote, Nats Blog has conjured one of those Flintstones-meets-Jetsons-type encounters: Jim Bowden and Isiah Thomas, as trading partners! You think Stevie Franchise would accept a move to the outfield?

* * *

NFA's Scott Collins is as indefatiguable as he is intrepid; he's still down in Viera, interacting with our team's prospects, or at least those players under thirty the organization considers prospects. Most important insight gleaned: Kory Casto is working out at both second and third, with the time devoted to each about even.

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The Nat Fanatics are back, under the exciting, sensible new name of Nats Fanatics. So check out what's there, including the forums and, importantly, the web site for the Nats Fan Club. (There's always an attached proviso that this is the "unofficial" Nats Fan Club, but I ask you: what other Nats fan club is there? This is it, folks. Go Nats!)