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John Patterson Released [With Update]

Dave Sheinin reports from Viera that the Nationals have released right-hander John Patterson.

Patterson, the Nationals' Opening Day starter in 2007, was limited to 15 starts in 2006 and '07 because of a series of nerve problems in his right arm and elbow. But after surgery last year, he reported to spring training vowing to have a solid season, returning to the form that made him a solid contributor in 2005, when he went 9-7 with a 3.15 ERA.

Patterson's velocity, though, was noticeably down in his last two spring outings. Club officials, however, continued to say that they believed it would return as Patterson built arm strength. Perhaps that was window-dressing as they wooed potential suitors for a trade.

Patterson, 30, has a career record of 18-25 and a long history of injuries. He has only once made 30 starts in the majors, and has never thrown 200 innings.

Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden has said the club is balancing how to best develop its young starting pitchers -- by allowing veterans to pitch in the majors, thus giving the youngsters a chance to grow in the minors, or throwing the kids into the mix. Bowden hasn't addressed this subject yet, but it'll be interesting to hear the explanation -- and find out if there was one specific instance that sparked this decision.

This opens a spot in the rotation for either Matt Chico or John Lannan. Patterson had been slated to start the second game of the season, March 31 in Philadelphia.

UPDATE FROM SHEININ:

Just spoke with John Patterson in the Nationals' clubhouse. He seemed pretty shaken by the news the Nationals had just released him. In fact, he started to address a handful of reporters minutes after getting the news, then decided he needed a few more moments to compose himself.

But Patterson also said he leaves with no regrets and no hard feelings. Here are some of his initial thoughts:

*On the reasons he was given for the release: "I think I wasn't progressing as fast as they wanted. They weren't seeing what they wanted to be seeing from me. For me to [ potentially] be not 100 percent -- it was a risk they weren't willing to take."

*On whether he's hurt: "I'm not hurt. I just think I didn't progress as fast as they wanted."

*Patterson also said it didn't help his case that Mark Lerner witnessed his most recent start Sunday in Fort Lauderdale against the Orioles, an admittedly rocky performance. "I pitched pretty well my [previous] two starts," Patterson said. "But he didn't see those."

*He also said he was "caught in between" Manager Manny Acta's desire for him "to get outs" and GM Jim Bowden's desire for him to throw more fastballs.

*Finally, he said, "I have great memories of D.C. and this organization. I'll always remember what it feels like to wear this uniform. Jim stuck by me as long as he could stand by me."

More later...

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 20, 2008; 1:50 PM ET
 
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