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Luis Atilano going on disabled list [Updated]

The Nationals will place fifth starter Luis Atilano on the disabled list with bone chips in his right elbow, opening up a spot in their rotation for a pitcher currently in the minor leagues - Matt Chico, Ross Detwiler or John Lannan - and potentially ending Atilano's rookie season.

Atilano underwent an MRI exam on his elbow Wednesday after revealing to Nationals trainers the weakness in his elbow he had been pitching through for "a couple weeks," he said.

"I didn't want to say nothing," Atilano said. "But I got to the point where I had to say it. It pretty much affected everything."

As Atilano pitched with the soreness, his velocity dropped and, more significantly for him, his control escaped him. In his past seven starts, not including a disastrous start in Class AAA Syracuse to keep fresh over the all-star break, Atilano has a 6.49 ERA.

"It's not really that painful," Atilano said, sitting at his locker with a large towel and a heat pad wrapped around his elbow. "There's something wrong. It has to be something. My stuff wasn't there."

Said General Manager Mike Rizzo: "I give him credit for gutting it up."

Atilano will be given a cortisone shot upon arriving back in Washington, and after the shot takes effect Atilano will throw a bullpen session the Nationals will determine a course of action. If Atilano can pitch without pain, he will begin a rehab process, continue his season and have surgery to remove the bone chips after the season. If he cannot, then he will have surgery right away and end his season.

Rizzo said the Nationals know who will start Sunday but declined to reveal the pitcher. Manager Jim Riggleman mentioned Chico, Detwiler and Lannan as candidates to replace Atilano.

The Nationals have several other pitchers - Jason Marquis, Jordan Zimmermann and Scott Olsen, who will make a rehab start today for Class A Potomac - nearing a return to the Nationals. But the pitcher who replaces will be called up, "because we want him to pitch here for a while," Riggleman said.

Chico makes sense because he started Tuesday for Class AAA Syracuse, which aligns him perfectly to pitch Sunday. Chico has thrown seven scoreless innings in each of his past two Class AAA starts, lowering his season ERA to 3.55 in 71 innings at Syracuse.

The Nationals will consider Detwiler even though he pitched Wednesday afternoon, throwing seven scoreless innings in his seventh start at Class AA Harrisburg. While Riggleman mentioned Detwiler as a candidate, Detwiler has not been told he will start for the Nationals and his next scheduled start remains Monday for Harrisburg. Detwiler had a chance to make the Nationals opening day rotation in spring training before undergoing hip surgery. Detwiler has a 2.48 ERA at Harrisburg.

The Nationals demoted Lannan in mid-June after his season-long search for his sinker, his best pitch, yielded ineffectiveness. Lannan has made five starts at Class AA Harrisburg with mixed results, going 1-2 with a 4.11 ERA in 30 2/3 innings.

The Nationals will wait until after today to decide what to do with their roster. If a need develops in their bullpen, they would add a reliever for Friday and Saturday. If not, they will simply call up Sunday's starter.

"You hate to bring somebody up for a day or two and not use them and send them right back," Riggleman said. "We're going to hold off."

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 22, 2010; 10:52 AM ET
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Next: Game 96 discussion thread: Nationals at Reds


I'm tired too. Of watching him get bombed and the team out it by the 2nd inning.

Posted by: ridgely1 | July 22, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Atilano said: "There's something wrong. It has to be something, my stuff wasn't there."

Luis, maybe you're just not a good pitcher.

Posted by: jlegg | July 22, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

He hurt his neck from constantly turning to see where the ball was hit.

What I liked about Atilano early this year was he got ahead of hitters and was aggressive; to see him walk the first two guys the other night showed how far he had fallen. Hope we didn't ruin the guy by rushing him into a rotation at a level he wasn't ready for.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | July 22, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Luis, maybe you're just not a good pitcher.

I don't know why more athletes, and coaches and mangers, for that matter, won't just admit they're not very good. Instead, the insist on going out there day after day and trying to succeed. It's very tiring for us true fans.

Posted by: markfromark | July 22, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I laughed when I read "he will miss three or four starts"... as if he is going to come back to the major league rotation at the end of his DL stint... so, there is nothing wrong with him, he is going on the DL because his stuff wasn't there? Weird, why not just demote him... certainly his performance justifies such a move... anyway...

Posted by: Ghost7 | July 22, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

"There's something wrong. It has to be something, my stuff wasn't there."

Yes, there is something wrong. It's a condition known as Mlbitis, which affects AAA pitchers when they try to face MLB hitters. They'll get by the first start or two, before there's any book on them, and then it's bombs away.

I doubt that we'll see Luis Atilano again in a Nationals uniform.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | July 22, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

right on ridgely!! gotta get in line for that one!

Posted by: 1of9000 | July 22, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

The guy has a sore elbow. Give him a break.

My question is why do guys try to pitch through pain when it just makes them look bad. I guess there's still some vestige of a "pitch your way through it" mentality out there, even among today's coddled athletes. Or maybe it's just among the ones not quite good enough to be coddled.

But lately he's been hurt. No need to add insults to his injury.

Posted by: BPupp | July 22, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Well said BPupp. Same thing goes for those who slammed Marquis for his poor pitching with bone chips in his elbow.

Posted by: baltova1 | July 22, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse


The problem I have with Marquis isn't the bone chips. Its the fact that he misrepresented himself to the Nationals. He LIED. He had this problem right from the get-go of ST if you'll recall.

At least guys like Wang, Olsen, Detwiler, et al have tried to be honest about their physical conditions as far as the Nats are concerned.

Marquis WAS NOT. I hope he never pitches an inning for this team but I rather doubt I will get my wish.

Posted by: periculum | July 22, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

If Marquis truly had an injury (which I don't believe so), then shame on the Nationals staff for not finding it during the physical. That's the whole point of a pre-signing physical.

Marquis made 33 starts last year, so its not as if anyone even suspected him of having an injury. In fact he's actually a workhorse; only one injury (and only 6 missed starts) since 2004.

Atilano's "injury" seems well timed. I'm sure he has pain since pretty much every majorleaguer pitches through pain during the grind of a 162 game season. So be it; he returns from DL to Syracuse, pitches out the string (unless we have an injury) and we re-evaluate next year. Perhaps he becomes middle-relief, perhaps we cut him loose.

Posted by: tboss | July 22, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

"You hate to bring somebody up for a day or two and not use them and send them right back," Riggleman said.

Yeah, Jim, what you want to do is bring someone up for good and not use them. Like Michael Morse.

Mr. Rizzo, can we get a new manager? Please?

Posted by: nunof1 | July 22, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

BPupp and baltova1, I'm with you. I don't care who you are, you cant pitch effectively on any level with bonechips. Without them , he pitched really well in the beginning of the year. You guys need to pull your heads out of you a**es. I'm about to form up a new regiment of the "Idiot Brigade, Nats Company" and issue you doofuses your marching orders.

Posted by: jmurray019 | July 22, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Anyone but Lannan - please. This guy has not pitched well since he returned to the minors. I'd prefer Detwiler, but anyone but Lannan will do.

Posted by: tcostant | July 22, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

jmurray, when I collect 7.5M, go 0-3 and have an ERA over 20 you can complain all you want about me.

As for 'gutting it out', how would you like it if your surgeon or pilot did a terrible job when they knew they couldn't do the job? It Atilano knew his arm was hurt that isn't gutting it out, it's stupidity as he put himself over the team. I hope he comes back and pitches like he did at the start, he's useless at all levels throwing like he is now, you can hope it's bone chips but if he's this young and his arm is just tired then his career as a starter, and probably as a pitcher, is most likely over.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | July 22, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

We really don't have any pitchers, now, who can go seven innings, and a lot of the pitchers, in the minor leagues, haven't done well, once they've made the big league. To be truthful, we don't have a very good starting rotation.

Posted by: mcjr | July 22, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I think people are being too hard on Atilano. He was a big part of the Nats having a winning record in April when our "Ace" Lannan flopped and Marquis was anything but. For most of his first 12 starts, he kept the team in the game through 6-7 innings.

Also, he's a rookie coming off of elbow surgery, but no one is counting his innings, in fact, they sent him to the minors during the all-star break to have him pitch even more innings. Even if a guy is not going to be your ace, you stiil don't want him overdoing his comeback or his first year in the majors. If all you care about is your ace, then you get what the Nats have had coming out of the All-star break....1 win every 5 days.

Posted by: Kolchak | July 22, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Hope he does not need another TJ.

2011 rotation does show some promise if put together right.

SS (22)
Jordan Zimmerman (24)
Ross Detweiler (24)
Yuniesky Maya (28?)
Shairon Martis (please Rizzo) (23)
Old Man Livo the 6th man out of the pen (??)

Posted by: hansenjo | July 22, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Good article....I have written an article about Tim Lincecum for my blog ( Here is a direct link to my post:

Feel free to comment and start a healthy debate!

Posted by: pmbfan | July 22, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

"Shairon Martis (please Rizzo) (23)"

When, in 2 or 3 years, he has to succeed in surpassing JD Martin's stats in Syracuse. Often looking lost there? Glad its Rizzo making those calls and not you hansenjo.

Posted by: periculum | July 22, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Uh mcjr, Strasburg (5-2) and Livo (9 innings today and has averaged 7-8 all season is 6-5). Not a complete rotation (NATS are getting there) but not as bad as you make out.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | July 22, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Man, you people are harsh. Hope that you will meet with more empathy if you ever have to deal with a potentially career-ending illness or injury. Good luck to Atilano with his recovery.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 22, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

The problem with the Nationals relief and starting pitchers are that Riggs keeps them in the game too long after everbody in the world can see that on a given night that they don't have the stuff. The other night it was clear Storen had no control and he left him in for 2 more batters and the same for Burnett he is a wreck and should be sent down.

Posted by: | July 23, 2010 1:33 AM | Report abuse

Why isn't Martis mentioned. Dump all those bad relievers except Storen and Clip and bring in some outfield hitters. Morgan should be gone he makes a lot of rookie mistakes and Ian will never be half the player Jeter is si stop the comparisons. We need hitters, we have pitching but they need to bring them up from the minors. Riggs is not managing well this year.

Posted by: | July 23, 2010 1:39 AM | Report abuse

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