It was ironic that Patterson was showing a Major League hopeful how to throw the curve, as that has been the sticking point in the right-hander's rehab from a right forearm strain. After throwing 3 1/3 innings and taking the loss in Potomac's 4-1 defeat at the hands of Winston-Salem, Patterson felt good about one of his breaking pitches, but wanted more from another.
"Early in the game, my curveball felt real good," Patterson said. "I started fighting it. I was fighting that mound a little bit today. Slider was OK, that was probably the least effective pitch today, but I did throw some good ones."
Patterson gave up four hits and two runs (none earned) in his first rehab start since being placed on the disabled list on April 28. Patterson gave up one extra-base hit, a double into the right-center-field gap by Winston-Salem's Victor Mercedes in the first inning, and got what he expected from the Warthogs' lineup.
"[Winston-Salem's hitters] were a good fastball-hitting group of guys," Patterson said. "I had to locate my pitches, a couple pitches I missed on. The guy that hit the double that got thrown out at third, it was a pretty good pitch -- but, you know, first-pitch fastball. At this level, that's mostly what guys can hit pretty well."
What Winston-Salem couldn't hit well were Patterson's other pitches. The right-hander struck out four, three on breaking pitches, walked one and most importantly, did not suffer a setback to his right forearm that would slow his journey back to Washington.
"[My] arm feels good, [it] never tightened up, all that's coming along real well," said Patterson after he threw 54 pitches, 30 for strikes. "[I] just have to get my stamina up a little bit one more rehab start, and hopefully that's the last thing I need to do."
Patterson said that just getting back into the ebb and flow of the game was what he needed the most to get him ready to join the Nationals as they continue to try to climb toward .500.
"The thing that's most important right now really is throwing an inning, sitting down, getting back up, warming up," said Patterson while icing his arm in the Potomac clubhouse. "So the four innings was what I really needed to do today, and I got that done -- getting up and getting down, anyway. My pitches felt pretty good. I had some good batters, some bad batters, but overall I was pretty pleased with how I threw the ball. It was about what I expected."
The former first-round pick told reporters that he could have gone deeper into the game, but wanted to bring his arm around slowly, as he will need some more work before heading back to the Majors.
"As of right now, we've got one more rehab start planned," Patterson said. "[I'm] not really sure where that's going to be, I think possibly New Orleans. But after that, my pitches should be high enough to return [to Washington]."
Maybe one more start where he'll spread the knowledge of the curve to a few more potential pitchers.
Michael Walsh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.