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Nationals considering left-hander O'Flaherty

Nationals considering left-hander O'Flaherty

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Nationals considering left-hander O'Flaherty

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Nationals have interest in free-agent left-hander Eric O'Flaherty, but as a team source put it, "That's down the road."

O'Flaherty missed most of the 2013 season because of Tommy John surgery, but that won't stop the Nats, who are known to sign players coming off of injuries, from pursuing him. For example, they signed right-hander Chien-Ming Wang in 2010 after he was coming off of major shoulder surgery.

The team has also dealt with a handful of players who have had Tommy John surgery. Right-handers Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann went through the procedure and have become solid pitchers for the club. O'Flaherty hopes to start throwing in January.

"I'm open to going anywhere," O'Flaherty said via telephone. "Me and my agent are just feeling it out. If it comes along, great. If it doesn't, we'll wait. We really don't have a deadline. We are just going to feel out the market and see what comes up."

When healthy, O'Flaherty is known to get hitters out with his sinker. His best season was in 2011, when he had a 0.98 ERA. Left-handers hit .195 against O'Flaherty that year.

"My arm feels amazing," O'Flaherty said. "I actually couldn't be happier with it. I'm really excited. I'm doing better than expected."

O'Flaherty said he admires what Washington has on its squad.

"The Nationals have a great group of guys. They have a lot of young talent. They had a rougher season than expected [in 2013]," O'Flaherty said. "They have so much good, young talent on their team, and that is a team we have gone to war with when I was with the Braves. In 2010, 2011, you could tell they were starting to do something special. ... You feel like they are going to be competitive for a long time."

The Nats are looking to improve their bullpen by adding a couple of lefty pitchers. They already have interest in Oliver Perez, J.P. Howell, Boone Logan and Scott Downs.

Last week, Yankees catcher Brian McCann decided to wear uniform No. 34 in honor of his best friend, O'Flaherty, his former teammate in Atlanta. What was O'Flaherty's reaction to McCann's decision to do that?

"It felt great. That's my boy. He is my best friend -- not just in baseball, but in life," O'Flaherty said. "You meet a few players throughout your career that you really hold on to and have friendships with. [McCann] has been one of them for me. We are real close. I couldn't be happier for him to be with the Yankees."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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