SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers are close to signing right-handed pitcher John Patterson, who was released by the Washington Nationals earlier this week. The Rangers have a set rotation of Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Jason Jennings, Kason Gabbard and Luis Mendoza but are interested in adding Patterson on a Minor League contract for protection against injury. They have already lost pitcher Brandon McCarthy until May because of severe inflammation in his elbow. Patterson was 1-5 with a 7.47 ERA in seven starts for the Nationals last year. He was their Opening Day pitcher but spent five months on the disabled list. His best season was in 2005 when he went 9-7 with a 3.13 ERA in 31 starts for the Nationals, but he made just 15 starts the past two seasons because of nerve damage in his right forearm that required surgery. The Rangers know that he is a project and not looked at as immediate help.
"It's no-risk for a guy who has had success in the big leagues," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "We want to bring him in, get him healthy and send him [to Triple-A]." Patterson was released after putting up a 7.00 ERA this spring. Opponents were hitting .317 off him. "I didn't progress as fast as they wanted me to progress," said Patterson after he was released by the Nationals. "After what I've been though the last two years, I think it was a risk they were not willing to take." The Nationals were hoping Patterson could get his fastball back up to 90 miles per hour but he has been clocked in the low 80s this spring. "Obviously, we thought we could get him back to where he was three years ago, and it never happened," Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said when Patterson was released.