Skip to content

Kimball needs rotator cuff surgery

Jul 8, 2011, 9:58 PM EST

Cole Kimball will have season-ending surgery next week to repair a torn rotator cuff, a devastating blow for the rookie reliever.

Kimball had been on the disabled list since June 10 with shoulder inflammation. He attempted to resume throwing this week but continued to complain of shoulder pain, so the Nationals sent him to New York specialist David Altchek for an enhanced MRI. That test revealed a torn rotator cuff; Altchek will perform the surgery sometime next week.

A 12th-round pick in 2006, Kimball was the first member of that draft class to play for the Nationals. The 25-year-old went 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 12 relief appearances, striking out 11 in 14 innings.

“He just got here, and he pitched well up here,” manager Davey Johnson said. “It’s an unfortunate injury. Hopefully he’ll be alright and recover. But that’s part of the game, injuries, and we’ve had our fair share.”

A team spokesman said Kimball would not be speaking to reporters today.

  1. JaneB - Jul 8, 2011 at 11:04 PM

    Man, what a shame. He was fun to watch, and to dream about being a reliable part of the BP. Anyone know how easy it is to come back from rotator cuff injury? Is that what Flores had? Sending wishes for a perfect surgery and recovery.

  2. sm13 - Jul 8, 2011 at 11:20 PM

    Riggleman takes the blame for this one — he overworked the poor kid. I hope Kimball comes back strong!

  3. rmoore446 - Jul 8, 2011 at 11:22 PM

    He'll be back.

  4. Wally - Jul 8, 2011 at 11:48 PM

    This is a real bummer for Cole. I wish him luck in his recovery.JaneB – recovery from shoulder injuries generally is pretty spotty. Apparently is a lot more complicated than elbows. People can come back, certainly, but the overall success rate is not high. Probably helps that he is a reliever.

  5. Don - Jul 9, 2011 at 1:52 AM

    I had a friend, years ago, that needed this same surgery. He played QB for a championship football team. He could never throw again without pain. Of course this was a few years ago and he probably didn't have the same level of surgeon a pro MLB player will get.Let's wish him the best.I wonder if this means Balester will be back?

  6. Anonymous - Jul 9, 2011 at 2:44 AM

    Both Carr and Kimball. That is pretty devastating. In light of this one can see why Rizzo is intent on collecting pitchers. Hopefully, some of the draft picks pick things up quickly. Rizzo mentioned Kylin Turnbull in his video chat from Santa Barbara CC and Santa Barbara and he does have a really strong left arm.

  7. Anonymous - Jul 9, 2011 at 2:45 AM

    I wonder if this means Balester will be back?Perhaps … but he wasn't that effective and Davey seems intent on getting a larger left-handed presence in the bullpen. That probably means Slaten or JC Romero.

  8. Section 222 - Jul 9, 2011 at 3:24 AM

    Ok, this is really getting ridiculous. He's been on the DL since June 10, and only now do they send him to NY for an enhanced MRI? WTF? Haven't they learned that lesson repeatedly with Flores and others? How much does this team spend on player development and salaries and everything else? They can't afford a few thousand dollars to get the very best medical diagnosis of a promising pitcher who is experiencing shoulder pain? Kimbell, and the fans, deserved better.

  9. rogieshan - Jul 9, 2011 at 4:00 AM

    Brandon Webb and Jake Peavy are two current pitchers of note to have rotator issues. In recent years, Mark Mulder, Kris Benson and Matt Clement all failed to recover fully from their surgeries. Jesse Crain, however, has and is doing well in Minny.All the best to Cole and his journey.

  10. NatsLady - Jul 9, 2011 at 4:33 AM

    Agree. Shoulder surgery not as "routine" as Tommy John. Good luck, and come back soon, but don't rush it.

  11. Anonymous - Jul 9, 2011 at 4:42 AM

    Brandon Webb and Jake Peavy are two current pitchers of note to have rotator issues.There is one really important guy you forgot … well maybe two.1. The Chief never fully recovered.2. Amazingly, and I still can't believe it, Chien-Ming Wang may just defy the odds through some really hard sweat and toil and do it. Prove is in the pudding and I guess we'll find out this July.

  12. natsfan1a - Jul 9, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    That's a shame. Hope Cole will have a successful surgery and full recovery.

  13. Anonymous - Jul 9, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    Terrible news for the kid. I feel for him. To have busted his butt the way he did and now this. The game isn't fair sometimes. Good luck Cole in your rehab

  14. N. Cognito - Jul 9, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    Riggleman takes the blame for this one — he overworked the poor kid. You funny!Unless you're serious, in which case, I don't know how you came to that conclusion.

  15. Doc - Jul 9, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    Kimball has cited shoulder pain as far back as ST. These injuries like TJ ulnar collateral are cumulative not due to one incident on one day.Don't think that we can blame Riggleman for the 14 innings of work. As noted by Section 222, it should have been diagnosed sooner.And as usual, Nats seem to be behind the Don Cooper/Rick Petersen curve in taking due care of the pitching arms as they come through the system.All the best to Cole. It is a very sad thing when it happens. The Chief's career was all too short, lets hope there is a better outcome for Cole.Cole put a lot of effort into getting to the Bigs. He definitely became part of the Nats' future. Hope he makes a successful return.

  16. sm13 - Jul 9, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    N.Cogonito — Kimball was a closer, used to one inning stints. Riggleman started to use him as a long man and for several multi-inning appearances and pitched him too often on consecutive days. What never goes in the record book was how many times a game Kimball got up to warm up and then sat down. It was pretty clear to some of us that this was the inevitable result of pushing a young kid too far too fast.

  17. Original Nats Fan - Jul 9, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    @DocCole didn't tell anyone he was having issues with his shoulder until it affected his pitching, if you read the reports quoting him back in June when he 'fessed up. Just a case of not wanting to blow his chance at the bigs. I don't see how this is the team's fault.

  18. Unkyd - Jul 9, 2011 at 6:09 PM

    Rotator cuff is a MUCH more positive diagnosis than labrum. The rotator cuff is a system of muscles and tissue, which hold the top Of the arm bone tightly to the shoulder bone. It's all soft tissue, and can be repaired. Labrum, I think is Flores' injury, and is the cartilaginous tissue between the bones (like meniscus, in the knee)…much more difficult to fix. If it's not too bad, The Kid has a good chance of being as good as new…..(fingers crossed…)

  19. Unkyd - Jul 9, 2011 at 9:22 PM

    Flores, Cordero: Labrum.Wang: capsule





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter