Rizzo discusses Lucas Giolito’s latest setback (we’re under way in D.C.)

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo confirmed that 2012 first-round pick Lucas Giolito will be heading to Los Angeles to see renowned orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum after suffering a setback in his return from an elbow injury.

Giolito appeared in a game with the Gulf Coast League Nationals last Tuesday, his first outing in the Nats organization, allowing one run and two hits over two innings. After the outing, however, Giolito complained of some soreness in his throwing elbow.

He was examined by a Nationals team doctor and now will fly out west sometime in the near future.

“We’re going to have a second opinion done with Dr. Yocum,” Rizzo said. “We’re in the process of scheduling that and once we get a diagnosis from him, we’ll proceed and do whatever we have to do.”

The options here are for Giolito to either have Tommy John surgery, a procedure which would knock him out for somewhere close to a full year, or continue trying to rehab the injury without going under the knife.

Giolito was once talked about as the potential No. 1 pick in this year’s First-Year Player Draft, but he fell to the Nationals at No. 16 largely because of concerns about his elbow. The prep right-hander, who went 9-1 with 78 strikeouts and a 1.00 ERA in 70.1 innings this year at Harvard-Westlake (Calif.) School had to be shut down during his senior season because of a strained UCL, the ligament which is replaced in Tommy John surgery.

OminousNatsParkRain.jpg“We knew when we drafted him this was an issue and we were comfortable with the fact that our worst-case scenario was Tommy John surgery and we’ll see if that’s where we’re headed,” Rizzo said. “But, yeah, going into this with our eyes wide open, we felt that this was a scenario and a possibility.”

Giolito went through what Rizzo calls a “return-to-throw program” at the Nationals’ minor league complex in Viera, Fla., without feeling any pain or discomfort in the elbow. That changed after his outing last Tuesday.

At best, the 18-year-old now will have to wait a little while for returning to the mound, and at worst, he could be going through the same rehab program Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann have experienced in past seasons.

“He wants to be healthy and get back on the mound pitching,” Rizzo said. “So whatever road gets him to that end sooner, that’s the one he’s going to take.”

Update: For the second straight day, the Nationals will start in a rain delay. The grounds crew has rolled the tarp part of the way onto the field and we’ve been told that tonight’s game with the Braves will start in a delay.

No word on when we might see first pitch, but I’ll obviously keep you posted.

Update II: An estimated first pitch has been set for 8:00 p.m. The tarp is coming off the field, and we’re getting ready for baseball.

Update III: After a delay of 56 minutes, we’re underway from Nats Park. Not nearly as big a crowd hung around for this one as did through the nearly 2 1/2 hour delay yesterday, but the ones that did will get to see Jordan Zimmermann and Tim Hudson battle it out.

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