Henry Rodriguez has made two stints on the disabled list this season for injuries the Nationals said were to his index finger and his lower back. Turns out the biggest issue with the erratic reliever was a bone spur in his right elbow that required surgery today.
Rodriguez was operated on by team orthopedist Wiemi Douoguih; he may not be able to pitch in winter ball but is expected to be fully healed for the start of spring training.
General manager Mike Rizzo said Rodriguez only began complaining about discomfort in his elbow in roughly mid-July, but it's not certain how long he was pitching with the injury, or what effect it had on his performance. After failing to surrender an earned run in any of his first nine appearances this season, Rodriguez posted an 8.14 ERA over his final 26 games.
"I'm not sure [what the effect was], but Henry has got great upside," Rizzo said. "He's a power pitcher, and if this injury prevented him from performing at his accustomed level, then that's a good thing. Because when he gets healthy, he should revert back to the guy we saw in spring training and the guy we saw at the beginning of the season."
Rizzo said this injury was similar to the one that caused fellow reliever Drew Storen to miss the season's first 3 1/2 months. Given a comparable recovery time, Rodriguez could be healed by December, at which point he could appear in some winter league games in his native Venezuela in preparation for spring training.
The Nationals will face the same dilemma with the 25-year-old next year as it did this year: Because Rodriguez is out of options, he will have to make the Opening Day roster or else be exposed to waivers.
Meanwhile, top Nationals draft pick Lucas Giolito underwent Tommy John surgery today, a procedure planned over the last week. Giolito, the 16th overall pick in the June draft, was operated on in his native Los Angeles by orthopedist Lewis Yocum. He's expected to miss the entire 2013 season.