"We want to get it calmed down," Patterson said Tuesday, speculating that he might not be ready until June 1. "Then I can start playing catch in four days and maybe throw in the bullpen on the 10th day. I probably won't be able to do a bullpen until [May] 18th or 19th, depending on how you look at the 10 days. It's a slow process.
"I've been surprised by the whole thing as much as anybody," he added.
Patterson (1-0) hasn't pitched since April 21 and went on the disabled list on April 28, retroactive to April 22. He had hoped to make a rehab start for Class A Potomac on May 13, but that was pushed back.
"We have a responsibility to give our players the best possible care," said general manager Jim Bowden, returning to the city he called home for more than 10 years. "He is a potential future No. 1 starter. We're going to take care of his arm.
"If this was a pennant race in September, he'd be pitching every fifth day," Bowden added. "He can pitch with this right now, but everybody knows that the only way to get this type of inflammation cleared up is rest."
That still leaves Robinson with a little "what might have been" longing.
"You can't put into words," he said when asked what the loss of Patterson has meant. "What would he have had -- about four starts? We probably would've counted on him for two wins and maybe another where he didn't get credit for the win."
Home, sweet home: Bowden was near glowing about returning to the city where he spent 13 1/2 seasons working for the local franchise, the last 10 1/2 as general manager.
"Every time I come to Cincinnati, it's wonderful," Bowden said. "My children are here, and to see the Cincinnati Reds in first place is pleasing. It's great to see guys like Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns and Ryan Freel and other guys I signed in the first place, and [new Reds owner] Bob Castellini and [first-year general manager Wayne Krivsky] have done a great job. I'm glad to see a commitment to winning."
Robinson returned to the city where he made his Major League debut 50 years ago, on April 17, 1956. That year's Reds team tied the National League record by cracking 221 home runs, and Robinson hit 38 on his way to being named NL Rookie of the Year. He ended up hitting 324 home runs in 10 seasons with the Reds, despite dealing with a huge scoreboard topped by a large clock in left-center field.
"That scoreboard and clock took a few home runs away," said Robinson, who hit 586 home runs in 21 Major League seasons. "That might have cost me 5-10 home runs a year."
Ready to go: Robinson described catcher Brian Schneider as "99 percent" and said he'd be able to start on Wednesday in the second game of the three-game series. Schneider left Saturday's loss to Pittsburgh with tightness in his right hamstring.
Meanwhile, right-hander Gary Majewski was available in the bullpen. Majewski hadn't pitched since Wednesday because of tendonitis in his rotator cuff.
"If he can turn it around, that would be a big plus for our bullpen," Robinson said. "We still have a lot of uncertainties down there."
Majewski has allowed nine runs, eight of them earned, in his last 8 2/3 innings of work, and Robinson agreed with the suggestion that some success in long relief might be the tonic. He also agreed that needing a reliever in the fourth or fifth inning wasn't ideal.
"That's not relief -- that's a lifesaver when you're drowning," Robinson said. "Our bullpen's not that deep."
Out for season: Shortstop Cristian Guzman will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery Tuesday in Cincinnati to repair the labrum in his right shoulder.
Stat of the day: The Nationals had turned just 19 double plays going into Tuesday's game, tied with the New York Mets for the fewest in Major League Baseball.
Coming up: The Nationals and Reds play the middle game of their three-game series Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Right-hander Livan Hernandez will start for Washington after giving up four earned runs in seven innings of a 4-2 Nationals loss on April 24 in Washington.