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Patterson: I felt tight

John Patterson gave up six runs in four innings and, in general, didn't feel good.

"Not as good as I felt in my other games," he said. "No pain or anything like that. Just tight. My arm felt like it didn't have a lot of acceleration to it, and really overall my whole body. I just felt a little tight, a little sluggish you know. I didn't want to overthrow, so I just had to throw my pitches over the plate. For a while, it was going a long good. I got tight."

The odd thing: The tightness wasn't in his forearm or elbow, which I suppose is a good thing.

"That's just my whole body, from my back, to my legs, to my arm -- believe it or not, everything but my forearm," he said. "I don't really feel a lot of tightness or stiffness in my forearm. It's the rest of me. I haven't pitched in a while. So to go out there and to just continue to get the repetition, to get my body into shape and my arm and everything into shape, is what it's going to take, and there's going to be days like this."

The Nationals, and Patterson himself, are trying to downplay the importance of Patterson's velocity, even with just two weeks left to go in the spring. We saw him throw three scoreless innings in Atlanta without overpowering guys. What they want to see, again, is extension in his delivery and some "late life" to his fastball, that "hop" he has when his arm action is really whipping through. That hop, which he's had on the mound and in bullpen sessions from time to time this spring, might be at a slower velocity until he builds the necessary arm strength. At least that's what the team and Patterson are hoping.

"I'll throw fastballs sometimes and the ball will just go boom, you know what I mean? I'm not throwing 92 miles an hour, 93 miles an hour right now. But I've thrown balls at times that have really good late life on them, which is what my fastball has. It may only be 88 miles an hour. But when I have that late life on the ball, it makes it look harder and I locate that pitch. Then there's times when I throw a fastball -- ugh, it's like throwing a bowling ball up there sometimes. That's how it feels."

"You just try to keep your eye on the prize really. At some point this is going to end and you pull through it. It's rehab by fire basically. There's only one way to get out of it and that is to throw and to pitch. I'm not upset about today. I have my head up and I understand there's going to be days like this. You just have to keep looking forward, looking for the end and keep working."

"Today was a bowling ball day. That's what it felt like. At times, I was having to just push it up there. And then there's fastballs that I threw and it was -- Bang, and I was like 'All right, now I've got to do that again.' And it just wouldn't go. It was back and forth all day long."

Manny Acta, too, is vowing to be patient with the whole process, and he believes we'll eventually see the velocity Patterson expects.

"It's going to come back in time," Acta said. "Regardless of how much he tries, he's not going to be throwing 92 to 93. It's not about him not trying to, but his arm strength is not there yet back to two or three years ago. But as long as he's not hurting and he can locate pitches like he's been doing, with the repertoire he has he can pitch and compete for us."

From my own observation, Patterson is trying to pitch a bit differently this year. Last year, it was almost like he didn't believe he didn't have the velocity back, and he was almost defiant about it in the way he pitched. This year, he seems more willing to pitch differently, to throw more breaking balls if need be, almost pitching backwards. Not sure how it'll work out, but it'll be interesting to watch.

Talk to you Monday.

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 16, 2008; 4:52 PM ET
 
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