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Willingham's knee may require offseason surgery

Nationals left fielder Josh Willingham, out of the lineup tonight for the second straight game, acknowledged he has been limited on the field by the soreness in his left knee and said it may require surgery this offseason.

Willingham said he wouldn't use his knee as an excuse for his recent slump -- which includes a homerless streak dating to July 2 and a .192 batting average and .525 OPS since the all-star break -- but said he has been limited by the injury, which he said is in the cartilage of his knee. Asked if it could require surgery after the season, Willingham said, "Possibly."

The knee first began bothering Willingham in April, but the pain eventually died down, only to resurface about two weeks ago on an awkward slide into third base.

"We probably should have given him a game [off] back then, and didn't," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "It got to this point where he's shown a little wear and tear on it."

Riggleman said he expects Willingham to play Friday night, and Willingham said he would continue to play on the knee "until it either blows out, or I cant take the pain anymore, or if I feel like I cant be effective."

Willingham, who is making $4.6 million this season, is under the Nationals' control for 2011, and is due a sizable raise via arbitration.

By Dave Sheinin  |  August 12, 2010; 4:38 PM ET
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Yeh, Mr. Riggleman, I guess you should have given Willingham some days off, but I guess he was hitting too good.

Posted by: JohnRDC | August 12, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Um, can we get a doctor's certification that continuing to play on this knee won't cause more significant damage that will be harder to correct in the offseason? Because continuing to run him out there to go 0-4 and miss flyballs that shoudl be caught in this now lost season makes no sense without it.

Posted by: Section222 | August 12, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Section 222 - Agreed. If he needs surgery, do it now so he will be ready for 2011.

Posted by: swanni | August 12, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-I'm in agreement with you all in the Hammer.....just posted this on an earlier thread-sorry fer the redo but it offers us SOME cheer in what's turning into another lousy season-not epically wretched, just run of the mill bad.
On the teams' lack of...something!...again I'll refer back to Gary Carter in the 1st game of the series.Here's the link (with thanks to catie-boy):

But, with all of our distress, here's a bit on RZimm I came upon regarding the NL MVP race from Cliff Corcoran over at Sports Illustrated:
"It's easy to forget that Zimmerman broke into the majors at the age of 20 and was slowed by a shoulder injury in his third full season. He rebounded from that injury to have a breakout campaign last year at the age of 24, and he's building on that performance this year. Even before his bat matured, Zimmerman was routinely the top defensive third baseman in the National League according to UZR. This year, he tops the majors by that measure, which combined with his power, patience and batting average at the plate, makes him one of the most exciting young players in the game. For those who have slept on Zimmerman, think of him as Evan Longoria in an alternate universe in which the Rays didn't make the leap to contention. Zimmerman can't steal bases, but he's the superior fielder and only a year Longoria's senior."
Now-Here's to hoping that sooner rather then later the Nats are playing in the same universe as the Rays!
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | August 12, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Zuckerman says it's a torn meniscus. Based on my extensive experience watching Marcus Welby, MD, and ER, I'd recommend they'd shut him down now...

Seriously, I can't imagine he won't aggravate the problem by continuing to play. Shut him down, bring back Nyjer or even pick up a Garrett Anderson and hope you get something out of him for a few weeks.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 12, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm no orthopedic surgeon, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night. Scope and sit now, come back strong when the stable is more full in '11.
PS This season sucks worse than last, perhaps because of the flashes we show of being decent. Then we play soccer, H-O-R-S-E and wiffleball in the infield sometimes in the same game. Argh.

Posted by: lousywebsite | August 12, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-and once again, I see some Gang alums (souldrummer, JayB) as well as regular Gangsters contributing good stuff over at Insider (Bens' spot, too).Also some folks I'd like to see over here (natsjack, phil dunn, anonymous!, to name a few...mebbe they ARE here - with different handles) Though I do see Souls' point-the Posts' website gives my computer fits. Logging on....posting...freezing up...etc. I never have that issue with oh, say the NYTimes site-or any of the many others I frequent (even if I can't seem to get on over at Insider!).
And what does that have to do with this post from AK? Nothing....just trying to reassure myself that there ARE plenty of folks who care about our on-field Gang. Speaking about Nats coverage-Baltova, I was disapointed with Boz's chat. Didn't appear to answer your (our)questions. He seemed to be back in the semi-fawning mode. Hey-we all recognize the improvements...the time it takes...the horrendous starting point. But acknowledging improvements AND holding feet to fires-just like building and winning-are NOT mutually exclusive.Although Boz was pretty strait-up regarding Desmond....I dunno...I realize being too antagonistic with the powers that be might result in his being frozen out...he'd be a hack like the rest of us with no real inside dope. Still...say what you will, but the OTHER Thom-you know, the BIG one now with All-4Skins media!-he was on the Slows and StanK way before anyone else...IMHO.
And finally, sticking with media, I heard Doc Walker talking about the Nats and the Slows...talking about how, while it might be embarrassing to be perpetual losers-well, as long as they're making's working for THEM, right? And please-I'm on record as believing Poppa Slow when he sez he is gonna build a perpetual contender here-which leaves me even MORE bewildered. (Incidentally, the new Rangers owner - Nolans' partner- sees the Dallas/Ft Worth region as being a sleeping giant and plans on perpetual contention there as well. Can't say I disagree with the potential.)OK...thanks for listening to my ramblings, Gang.
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | August 12, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

The Boz is just back from vacation, including time on the Caymans; Give him a week or two, and he'll be back under Kasten's skin regarding the Nationals, imo.
As you mention, JBeee has diligently pointed out (mostly on Zuckerman's site) some valid problems that will need addressing in the off-season, related to pruning the 40-man roster & restocking. His tact is a little too agressive for my taste (Do It NOW), but he does make sense in the long run.
Finally, don't believe even 10% of what you hear on local sports-talk radio - None of the local voices are either interested or invested in anything but the Redskins right now. They might voice an occaisional opinion, usually pointed at riling up the 'core' fanbase that might be tuning in (which most of them aren't, having already given up on local sports-talk coverage).

If the local radio stations want to snag the baseball listeners, devote a regular show entirely to Baseball - Skew it to Washington / Baltimore coverage, but allow for general NL/AL coverage as well. Get the known local voices (Angell / Carpenter / Holliday / Jaegler / Knight / Palmer / Slowes / Wood / etc) to either host it, or at least guest on it. Run it for a year on weekends, and if it takes hold, expand it to gamenights during the season & keep it to weekends during the off-season.

Posted by: BinM | August 12, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

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