May 5, 2012; Washington, D.C., USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Ryan Mattheus (52) pitches in the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park. The Nationals defeated the Phillies 7 - 1. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

Is Ryan Mattheus Being Rushed Back?


Ryan Mattheus has been on the 15 day DL since late May rehabbing from plantar fasciitis. For those of you who have never had this annoying and painful problem, it is an inflammation of the arch tendon of the foot, causing pain when walking, especially in the heel. The major part of the treatment regimen for this condition is rest—if you continue to aggravate the tendon, this turns into a chronic condition that can be very difficult to treat and take a long time to resolve.

I developed plantar fasciitis during a period in my life when I had an eight block walk each way between the train station and my office. I had it for a year and a half because I kept doing that walk five days a week. The condition finally resolved when I changed jobs and drove to work. Three months after I stopped stressing the tendon, the pain disappeared and the tendon healed.

Brad Lidge had surgery for a sports hernia the last week of April. It was estimated at the time it would be at least three weeks before he could start throwing again. Lidge got two rehab appearances at the Potomac Nationals single A squad, one on June 4th and one on June 6th. His outing on June 4th was horrible, as would be expected in a pitcher’s first game back from surgery after not pitching for six weeks. Lidge went a third of an inning, gave up two hits, walked a batter and gave up a run before being pulled. His second outing on June 6th went much better, where he pitched one inning and struck out two, allowing no hits and no runs. His ERA on his brief rehab assignment was 6.75 against single A batters.

It was no surprise that Lidge was beaten like a drum when he returned to the majors after just two rehab starts against low level minor league batters. He obviously was not given enough time to get ready to face major league pitching again. After Lidge posted a 23.14 ERA after his return to the Nats, Lidge was designated for assignment this morning and Mattheus was recalled from his rehab assignment to take his place.

Mattheus made three starts in rehab. His first game at Potomac wasn’t pretty—he gave up back to back home runs in his one inning appearance for an ERA of 18.00. He was then pushed up to AA Harrisburg. First game there he pitched an inning and gave up a run. In his next outing he finally pitched an inning where he did not give up a run. Total ERA over two innings pitched—4.50. The talk was that Mattheus would be returning to the Nationals in late June. He was recalled to rejoin the Nationals after a grand total of three innings pitched in rehab.

Lidge was rushed off rehab because of the injuries to Mattheus and Henry Rodriguez. Now Mattheus is being rushed back from rehab because Lidge has been completely ineffective. This is no way to treat injured players and no way to run this organization. The Nats have several relievers in the minors—Christian Garcia comes to mind—who could have come up for a week or two to get the team through the bullpen shortage without pushing injured players back from rehab assignments. The Nats have been willing to reach down into the minors to get position player help when needed this season. There is no reason not to do the same with the minor league relievers.

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