Johnson, Rizzo discuss Rodriguez surgery (plus notes on Lannan, DeRosa, Wang)

Nationals reliever Henry Rodriguez and 2012 first-round pick Lucas Giolito both underwent elbow surgeries today.

Can the team get some kind of buy one, get one free deal here?

Giolito underwent Tommy John surgery out in L.A., with the procedure performed by Dr. Lewis Youcm. Rodriguez, meanwhile, went to New York to have Nationals orthopedist Dr. Wiemi Douoguih remove a bone spur from his right elbow.

Rodriguez’s surgery was a surprise to reporters, given the reliever is currently on the disabled list with a lower back strain. Rodriguez will not be able to throw for the next 10-12 weeks, according to general manager Mike Rizzo, but he’s expected to be a full-go by spring training next year.

“Henry’s procedure was similar to the one Drew Storen had,” Rizzo said. “It was a bone fragment, a bone spur, removed from his elbow, so they cleaned it up and he should rehab and be prepared for the beginning of spring training.

“He didn’t complain about it until about two weeks before we put him on the DL and said it felt better when he got loose and warmed up and heated up. So I would assume (he started feeling it) somewhere around that when he started mentioning it and complaining about it.”

In Johnson’s mind, this type of injury changes how he views Rodriguez’s season as a whole. The hard-throwing righty pitched incredibly well in spring training and the early part of the season before his season went south in a hurry.

“He’s been pitching with a lot of pain,” Johnson said. “He’s big and strong. He’s just kind of hidden that. Some of his wildness, I mean he was letter-perfect in the spring when he was fresh and then first month of the season - nine saves and they were mostly perfect. Then he started having some wildness. From what the doctor said, the elbow was in a lot worse shape than he anticipated

“Henry’s a tough guy. He’s strong and he’s probably been used to pitching with discomfort. I can’t imagine him complaining even if it was a performance (issue). He wasn’t going to blame it on anything, didn’t want to take the chance of us thinking there was something wrong with him because he’s been able to pitch with it, but once you become a closer, no matter how hard it hurts, I’m sure you’re not going to say anything. (Pitching coach Steve McCatty) had a good conversation with him the other day about, you know, we could’ve given you rest during that period and get you through that rather than staying silent on it.”

The Nationals’ hope at this point is that Rodriguez can rehab diligently during the next few months, get his arm strength and stuff back, and then be able to find a more consistent sense of control next spring. We all know about the wildness that Rodriguez exhibited this season - throwing 10 wild pitches in just 29 1/3 innings - but if he can improve his control, he has the potential to be a dominant late-inning reliever.

“Henry has got great upside,” Rizzo said. “He’s a power pitcher and if this injury prevented him from performing at his accustomed level, then that’s a good thing. Because when he gets healthy, he should revert back to the guy we saw in spring training and the guy we saw at the beginning of the season.”

Johnson said that John Lannan, who will be among three call-ups tomorrow, will throw bullpen sessions to stay fresh until he’s needed to replace Stephen Strasburg in the rotation, but he could also be used in relief.

Eury Perez will provide a right-handed option in center field and could be called on to pinch-run, while Sandy Leon will add catching depth.

Mark DeRosa will activated tomorrow, ending what will be a 25-game stint on the DL due to an ab strain. Chien-Ming Wang, meanwhile, will make one more minor league start before rejoining the Nats.

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