Monday, April 11, 2005

Six in the five-hole

Patterson helps Nats, maybe not himself

So I saw the movie "Sahara" over the weekend. At one point, Penelope Cruz is down a huge well when some bad dudes with guns show up. Her friends are gunned down, but her absence among the lifeless is conspicuous. The Main Bad Guy orders something like, "Tear this town apart! Search everywhere for her!" (MST3K line-of-the-night: " . . . but not down that well over there!") At this point, you get the impression that even if the baddies don't notice her, she's got a heck of a climb to daylight once they leave. (Then Hollywood intervenes, fortunately for her . . .)

Maybe John Patterson feels a bit like Penelope Cruz. (Well, maybe not . . .) Granted, his teammates are still alive (though one's ailing; see next paragraph), but he's stuck in an awfully big hole with no real sign of light.

Yesterday, Patterson got an emergency start of sorts, thanks to Tony Armas's tweaky groin, and Patterson pitched his heart out for seven innings. That Josh Beckett hurled a gem doesn't change that Patterson looked---sounded---great out there. (On a related note, the Florida announcers---hat-tip to XM---were really impressed by Patterson.) Patterson did a huge favor to the Nats, filling in capably for Armas.

What also "doesn't change," though, is Patterson's status with the club. Call it what you want---spot starter, swing man, middle-reliever-on-loan; it is what it is, says Frank Robinson: Patterson's performance "doesn't change [his situation] overnight."

In other words, once Armas is back and limbers up, Patterson goes back to the sideline and wears the headset, so to speak.

That is as it should be, of course. Patterson is the sixth man in a five-man club. Whether or not Esteban Loaiza, for instance, really should be a National (member of the Nationals?) is immaterial to the fact that he is on the team, and his value is in being given a shot to pitch fairly well and flip a prospect or two in return. In addition, we can fall back on the old saw about "never having too much pitching." Hello, Jon Rauch!

However, if Frank Robinson is going to talk about "experience," I'll add that it's my experience that when a person, like Patterson, is given a shot and does well but is not granted additional shots, it is hard not to feel sorry for that person's lot in life.

Think Patterson's hoping Zach Day falls flat on his face tonight?
Crow bar to the kneecap oughta do it, yes. ;-)
I'd say that qualifies.

Both of 'em should see another start -- maybe two, before Brittle McBrittleson is ready to pitch in the bigs. Assuming he doesn't hurt himself on his rehab assignment.
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