• Rizzo on Strasburg: In a pregame press conference to address the health of the Nats' 22-year-old '09 1st Round pick, pitcher Stephen Strasburg, DC GM Mike Rizzo told the assembled members of the press that the, "...dry MRI, showed some things on there that led us to set up another MRI arthrogram with the injected dye so we can get a full view of what's going on," in Strasburg's arm. "We're still calling it a flexor strain," Mr. Rizzo continued, "and after the MRI arthrogram we'll certainly have more information and after that we'll have full information and we'll do our due diligence and we'll know what course to take after that." The obvious follow-up question followed immediately: Were the Nationals doing the follow-up MRI because of something they saw or didn't see in the initial exam?
Mike Rizzo: "It's because what we couldn't see, mostly, because the swelling inside the tendon makes it difficult on a dry MRI to see the real intricacies of the tendons and the ligaments..."
The results, Mr. Rizzo said, would be back in 24 hours after the second exam was completed, but the Nationals were going to go ahead and place the young Nats' ace on the DL in spite of the fact that the pitcher felt no pain and even arrived at Nationals Park Monday wanting to throw. The team was going through with the exam regardless, because they were clearly not taking any chances with the top pitching prospect in their system and maybe all of baseball. The focus, Mr. Rizzo assured the writers, was still on Strasburg's forearm and the flexor tendon, rather than other parts of the arm, but the second test would provide the team with "a clear diagnosis".
"The shoulder red flag, we're beyond that," Mr. Rizzo said when asked if the Nats were concerned with the troubles Strasburg's had in his rookie campaign, "the elbow is...we're going to see where we're at after the arthrogram and we'll see where we're at as an organization after that." The Nats' general manager resisted several questions in the press conference which seemed geared towards pulling the name of some well-known doctors into the discussion, insisting that the tests would be conducted locally within the next "day or so" though Mr. Rizzo wasn't sure when.
The Nats' GM ended the brief interview by saying the issue in Strasburg's arm is similar to that which caused Nationals' left-hander John Lannan to miss a start earlier this season. As an AP report at USA Today entitled, "Nationals LHP John Lannan will skip next start", reported back on May 4, 2010, the 24-year-old starter experienced discomfort, "...when throwing his sinker and change-up." "[An] MRI exam revealed swelling around his flexor tendon," and Lannan was kept out of one start, struggled upon returning, and was eventually forced to go down to Double-A Harrisburg for more than a month, before Lannan discovered that he had altered his delivery to avoid a recurrence of the pain he'd suffered. Whether the Nats will bring Strasburg back at all this season is still undecided...
• Harper's Introduction:
Lost in all the talk about the Nats' '09 no.1 overall pick was the announcement that Washington's 2010 no.1 overall selection, Bryce Harper, (who'll wear his now-familiar no. 34), would be introduced to the media on Thursday in Nationals Park before the Nationals and Cardinals play the first of a four-game long-weekend series in DC. The word was that the 17-year-old outfielder would work out privately for the Nats and then meet with the press, though there's no word on whether it will be an event similar to what Strasburg had last season when the Nats held an introductory press conference on the field which saw Ryan Zimmerman present the last once-in-a-generation prospect with his first Nats jersey. It would be interesting to see which National would be asked to present Harper with his jersey, since Strasburg would be an obvious choice, providing the Nationals with a chance to smooth out any lingering issues over Strasburg's comments about Harper in the days leading up to this August's signing deadline. (ed. note - "They're both Boras' clients, I think that was all overblown.")
DC GM Mike Rizzo noted his "Silent Assassin's" comments in a recent interview, but wrote them off as a part of his competitive personality. Strasburg heard similar comments in the days leading up to the '09 signing deadline, but he was immediately embraced by the nation's capital and the Nats. The only comments Harper's made about Strasburg were in a teleconference with the writers following the Nats shortly after the draft in June, when he told reporters that he hadn't ever talked to his predecessor as the no.1 overall selection, but thought, "...it would be absolutely amazing to come in and play with [Strasburg], be on the same team as him and in the same organization, and try to build some winning seasons for the Nationals."
Will the Nationals have good or bad news about their '09 pick no.1 overall a day before they introduce 2010's top pick?