Notes: Johnson's leg surgery a success

Notes: Johnson's leg surgery a success

NEW YORK -- From his hospital bed, first baseman Nick Johnson, recovering from his right leg surgery, watched on TV as his teammates dedicated their 5-1 win against the Mets to him. The players had their socks up high, similar to how Johnson wears them, and displayed his road jersey in the dugout.

"They have a bunch of good guys," Johnson told via telephone. "It was good to see."

Johnson had a two-hour procedure done to repair his broken right leg on Saturday night.

Johnson fractured his right femur in the bottom of the eighth inning, when he collided with right fielder Austin Kearns on a fly ball hit by Mets third baseman David Wright. After lying on the ground for several minutes, Johnson was taken off the field on a stretcher, and he was transported to New York Hospital Queens, where the surgery took place around 11 p.m. ET.

The Nationals are optimistic that Johnson will be ready for Spring Training 2007.

"The crew from the EMS, the police department -- there was not a glitch," head athletic trainer Tim Abraham said. "Everybody has been awesome."

Dr. Peter Dzenis, with assistance from team physician Dr. Ben Shaffer, put a titanium rod into the fractured femur along with three screws -- one near the hip and two above the right knee.

"Isolated femur fractures -- when they are reduced in good position and fixed with a rod -- it allows weight bearing right away," Dr. Shaffer said via telephone. "The surgery is only eight to 10 hours old, so he won't feel like putting much weight on it today. He still has a fair amount of swelling in his thigh. It will take a while to go away. Hopefully, he'll be able to put weight on it more and more, so he can fully bare weight within four to six weeks.

"We'll look at [the] X-rays with the expectations that by six weeks, there will be a fair amount of healing at the fracture site. Generally speaking, we are looking at three to four months for this to heal, which allows the person to really pound on it and do anything they want."

Johnson said he feels "very sore," and he doesn't know when he will be released from the hospital. He's also not sure if he will travel with the team back to Washington on Monday night.

"I can barely get out of bed," he said.

Johnson, who sounded like a man with no regrets about what happened in Saturday, said he will continue to go all out on the field.

"I'll never change," he said. "I will continue to play hard."

After the game ended on Saturday afternoon, several members of the Nationals -- Kearns, Ryan Wagner, John Patterson, Ryan Zimmerman, Brian Schneider and his wife, Jordan -- went to see Johnson before he went under the knife. Johnson saw them one at a time. He was later placed in a bigger room and watched the college football game between Kentucky and Florida with his teammates. Later that evening, Ramon Ortiz visited Johnson. By all accounts, the 28-year-old was in great spirits.

"He was laughing and joking a little bit, so that was good," Kearns said. "It kind of made it easier for us."

On his first day after the operation, Johnson did some light rehabilitation. He used a walker, but he had difficulty moving around and had to be aided by a nurse.

After Sunday's game, Schneider and manager Frank Robinson went to the hospital to visit Johnson.

In the meantime, Robinson said there will not be an everyday first baseman for the remaining eight games. Robert Fick and Jose Vidro are players who have experience playing the position.

Injury report: Kearns was given what Robinson described as an emotional day off. Robinson said that Kearns was "broken up" about the accident.

Kearns said he was all right emotionally and happy to hear that Johnson will be ready for Spring Training. However, Kearns said that his left side and right quadriceps are hurting because of the collision, and that he may need more than one day off.

"It's pretty sore, but I'll be fine," Kearns said.

Zimmerman was not in Robinson's original starting lineup on Sunday because of a sore left elbow, but the young third baseman convinced the skipper to put his name in the lineup. Zimmerman hurt his elbow in the eighth inning after making a diving catch in the stands on Shawn Green's foul popup. According to Robinson, the elbow swelled after the game, but Zimmerman said he was all right on Sunday.

In the hospital: Pitching coach Randy St. Claire is in St. Vincent Hospital due to pneumonia. On Saturday, he stayed in his hotel room, but he didn't get any better and admitted himself into the hospital. St. Claire will most likely not be with the team on Monday.

Be a part of the mailbag: The Nationals mailbag runs on Monday. Send in your questions now.

Stats of the day: Prior to Sunday's game against the Mets, Nationals reliever Chris Schroder has retired 14 consecutive hitters, 11 via the strikeout.

Did you know: Nationals pitchers have picked off six runners this season. The last one came on Aug. 11, when Billy Traber picked off Jose Reyes.

Coming up: The Nationals will play the finale of a four-game series against the Mets on Monday night at 7:10 ET. Right-hander Beltran Perez will take the mound for Washington, while left-hander Tom Glavine goes to the hill for New York.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.