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Nationals pitcher, seemingly finished in pro ball after suffering serious arm injury, is fulfilling his once-enormous potential.
Date published: 5/6/2005
By TODD JACOBSON
Sitting in a video room adjacent to the Nationals' RFK Stadium clubhouse, Patterson holds up his right arm and pulls the sleeve of his T-shirt back to reveal a four-inch scar from his "Tommy John" surgery that snakes along the inside of his elbow. He doesn't smile, or frown, or react.
The scar is there, muted pink in color and slightly raised. It will always be there, which is as appropriate a place as any to understand how a fast-tracked phenom took nine years to finally make it.
"From the day I got drafted nothing was normal," Patterson said. "My career wasn't like everyone else's. There has always been something going on. There have been times where I am just like, 'Am I cursed?'"
Maybe things came too easy too early.
Patterson was always able to blow batters away with his 97 mph fastball or gravity-defying curve. It had been that way since he started pitching at the age of 10 in Orange, Texas, a small port town on the Texas-Louisiana border.
His father, Doug, was also a pitcher, and advanced as far as Double-A in the Baltimore Orioles' organization. John followed the same path, and when he was a senior at West Orange/Stark High School, he fanned 142 batters in 72 innings and was one of the top prospects in the country.
Things looked good then. The plan was for Patterson to be in the big leagues by 2000.