2:18pm: Today the Nationals released oft-injured starter John Patterson, who hasn’t had a healthy season since his excellent 2005. Patterson says he’s healthy, but wasn’t progressing as quickly as the Nationals had hoped. His velocity has been down this spring. Based on his comments he seems like a good guy; I’m sure he’ll find work with another club.
Patterson was drafted fifth overall by the Expos in ’96, but jumped to Arizona as a $6MM loophole free agent after Montreal didn’t offer him a contract within fifteen days. The D’Backs’ top pitching prospect needed Tommy John surgery in May of 2000, before he reached the bigs.
He made his big league debut in July of ’02 as an injury replacement for Rick Helling. He also received a September call-up to finish off that season. Patterson was named by Bob Brenly as the fourth starter heading into the ’03 season, but a poor spring performance and a cut on his thumb caused Brenly to change his mind. Patterson bounced up and down between Triple A and the Majors that year.
Out of options in ’04, the D’Backs delayed their decision on Patterson until late March and then shipped him to Montreal for nondescript reliever Randy Choate. Patterson opened the season as the Expos’ fifth starter, but tore a groin muscle and didn’t come back until July. His performance after that was erratic, but he excelled in the winter league after the season.
A Tony Armas injury helped Patterson snag a rotation spot to begin ’05, and he was masterful in 31 starts that year (despite a DL stint for back spasms). With big expectations for ’06, Patterson discovered forearm soreness in April. The injury didn’t go away, and Patterson had exploratory nerve surgery in July.
That winter Patterson lost his arbitration case but entered the season a healthy pitcher (aside from dizzy spells in spring). Biceps and elbow soreness surfaced in May; his velocity was down all year. In June he went to Canada for an injection-based nerve treatment in his elbow. Though he deemed the procedure a success, Patterson went under the knife again in September to remove upper arm scar tissue and deal with more nerve problems. While the velocity has been down this spring, Patterson hasn’t dealt with any injuries yet. After reviewing his history, I realized Patterson is a marvel of modern science. Still, it seems the man’s body was just not meant to pitch every five days.