WASHINGTON (AP) -Right-hander John Patterson is back with the Washington Nationals after a trip to Toronto for some unorthodox treatment on a bothersome nerve in his pitching arm.
Patterson played catch Thursday, then spoke to the media for the first time in about a month, but only briefly - 22 seconds to be exact - in an oddly terse exchange.
``I really just have one comment, and the comment is basically that I feel good. I feel great. It's the best I've felt in two years, and the treatment was a success,'' Patterson said in the home clubhouse at RFK Stadium. ``I have a throwing program that I'm following. That's the only comment I have.''
A reporter asked: ``Will you be back this year?''
Patterson replied: ``Yeah, but that's all I have to say.''
As the normally affable Patterson began to walk away, another reporter asked, ``How come?''
There was no reply from Washington's opening day starter, who is 1-5 with a 7.47 ERA in seven starts this season.
``It's frustrating to keep talking about injuries, for as long as he's been. We support John 100 percent,'' general manager Jim Bowden said. ``John has given everything he's had to come back - 100 percent effort. And we're behind him. I can be short some days, too. It's OK.''
Bowden said Patterson, on the disabled list since May 6, will head to Florida in the next week to continue his throwing program.
``We'll just keep monitoring him. But we expect him to pitch here in September,'' the GM said. ``He's had some legitimate medical problems that have been very difficult that he's had to endure, which happens to guys. But the good news is that he's making progress medically. Threw pain-free today. So we're hoping his troubles are behind him.''
Bowden wasn't as openly optimistic about first baseman Nick Johnson, who's been out all season after breaking his right leg last September. Bowden and manager Manny Acta watched him hit and work out Thursday, and Acta said Johnson still has problems running.
Asked whether he thinks Johnson will play in 2007, Bowden said: ``I can't answer that yet. I think he's making progress, and I know he's working hard.''
After visiting four doctors during a cross-country trek in June, hoping to find a solution to the nerve problem, Patterson decided to try a treatment Bowden said was also used by Oakland Athletics closer Huston Street - and no one else in the majors.
Bowden wouldn't describe what Patterson had done in Toronto, saying only: ``It's very complicated, and they're new medical procedures that haven't been done before.''
Before Patterson left the team, Acta described the treatment as involving injections and said it ``is not approved here in the States yet.''
Said Bowden: ``We're breaking new ground and doing new procedures that's never been done before. So we don't know how it's going to play out. But so far, so good. We'll take it one step at a time. We're not going to promise anything.''
Acta said Thursday he expects Patterson to pitch again in 2007.
``He feels they did a very good job over there and took away some type of knot that he had over here'' - Acta pointed to his right arm - ``that didn't allow his nerves to work freely. So he's in real good spirits,'' the manager said. ``He can give you more information than me, but I felt good just talking to him. He seems relieved.''

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