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Washington Nationals (2-9) at Florida Marlins (3-6)

Game No. 12: April 15, 6:05 pm; MASN, WTWP, XM 183
John Patterson (0-0, 6.30) vs. Scott Olsen (NR)

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"The art of life is the art of avoiding pain." ---Thomas Jefferson

Applying Mr. Jefferson's standard, one must begin to suspect that the Washington Nationals are not tremendously artful:

1. Brian Lawrence (gone until at least August, most likely the season)
2. Cristian Guzman (to be determined, perhaps out for the year)
3. Luis Ayala (gone for the season)
4. Pedro Astacio (gone now, who knows for how long)

Friday night's 5-3 loss to the Marlins ended with three more scuffed-up good guys:

1. Jose Guillen (strained left ribcage, out for at least the rest of the current series)
2. Jose Vidro (aggravated left hamstring, day-to-day)
3. Ryan Drese (pain in the right elbow, 15-day disabled list).

Fortunately, Guillen's and Vidro's injuries do not appear to be serious; Guillen was replaced by Marlon Byrd, who was still recovering from his own injury (a neck stinger, suffered Thursday night). However, Drese's outlook is best described as uncertain (or, at worst, a lost cause):

With two outs in the fifth, he reached back to throw a pitch to Florida's Mike Jacobs and felt something in his elbow. He threw one more pitch, and it became a sharp pain. "I've never felt anything like this before," he said afterward.
[Drese was referred to orthopedic surgeon Lewis Yocum, who] is the same doctor who performed surgery on Drese's right shoulder last September. And while nothing could be determined with certainty Friday night, UCL injuries and subsequent trips to Yocum frequently result in ligament replacement surgery, which would cost Drese the rest of the season."

If Drese is gone, then the rotation is down to Livan Hernandez (who has looked awful so far), Patterson, Tony Armas (fine at present, but a question mark), and . . . whom? Followed by whom? [editor's note, by Basil] I forgot about Ramon Ortiz, although I suppose I was only doing what I wish we could all do so far.

One would expect long reliever Jon Rauch to get the next shot; remember, he's coming off a partially torn labrum. Billy Traber, who is working his way back from arm trouble, is waiting in New Orleans for a shot in the big leagues. It might happen soon.
In the meantime, reliever Saul Rivera was promoted to replace Drese. More on Rivera at Nationals Farm Authority.

Nat at Bat: Ryan Church

With all the talk of Brandon Watson's struggles prior to his demotion to the minors, it is only fair to point out Church went 0-for-5 in his first game back for Washington. He took the collar, but did some positive things in his first two at-bats versus elite lefty Dontrelle Willis. A review of his CBS Sportsline at-bat chart reveals:

First AB: 10-pitch fly-out. Good patience, taking three pitches out of the zone among the first four offerings, then fouled off several pitches before flying to left.
Second AB: Eight-pitch fly-out. Showed a good eye and didn't chase a strikeout pitch down-and-away (by my recollection, he seemed to struggle with those last year). However, it would appear he fouled off two pitches in his wheelhouse and eventually flied to left again.
Third AB: Six-pitch strikeout. Took two strikes, but again did not chase a strikeout pitch down-and-away. Fouled off the fifth pitch, which was outside. Took the sixth pitch, outside in the same spot, but was punched out.
Fourth AB: Three-pitch strikeout. The key to the at-bat was chasing a pitch low in the zone for a swining strike two. Clearly, not a good at-bat.
Fifth AB: Four-pitch strikeout. I wasn't watching, obviously, but it looks like a splitter got him.

So, it was an oh-fer with three strikeouts---a disappointing performance, of course, but the first two at-bats were encouraging.