ATLANTA - JUNE 28: Pitcher Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals wipes sweat away just before being pulled in the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on June 28, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
DC GM Mike Rizzo has been making the rounds of the talk shows this afternoon, explaining the injury that has occurred to the Nats' '09 no.1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg, which will apparently lead to the 22-year-old right-hander having Tommy John surgery to repair a torn Ulnar Collateral ligament in his right elbow. In an appearance on Sirius/XM's MLB Network Radio show "Inside Pitch" with former DC GM Jim Bowden and Casey Stern within the last hour, Mr. Rizzo was asked if he could identify the cause of the injury and if it might be Strasburg's delivery, his change, or maybe just the fact that the human arm's not made to throw like Strasburg does. Mr. Rizzo's response:
Mike Rizzo: "You have such force and velocity coming in a deceleration of that arm speed, the pitcher's arms and these human bodies aren't made for that kind of stress. With that said, the changeup has been a part of his repertoire since college but wasn't used nearly as much in the college game, and he really perfected it this year and it was the main cause of the force on the ligament, in this particular pitch, that we think snapped the Ulnar Collateral. I think we're certainly looking into his repertoire, we will look into his pitch selection, the repetoire, and that type of thing, but you have a big physical player here, who throws hard, is a power pitcher, he's certainly going to be a power pitcher in the future, and we certainly don't second-guess ourselves and the way we handled this pitcher and developed him, we feel we did the right thing by him we followed the plan and we feel that it was just an unfortunate happenstance that happens to a lot of pitchers unfortunately."
"I don't think we could've done anything differently to change this outcome," Rizzo said, "...other than put him in a bubble and not pitch him." Strasburg's headed for California reportedly, though he'll address the D.C. press corps at 4:00 pm EST today. The Former DC GM Jim Bowden tried to soften the blow some, pointing to the fact that both Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann will have gotten the pitcher's rite of passage out of the way at an early age, and Mr. Rizzo agreed, saying the one positive you can pull from the news is that, "...really looking at the glass half-full, it's elbow, it's Tommy John, it's not shoulder, labrum of [rotator] cuff, so although it's a longer rehabilitation, we feel good about the track record and the history of the results of Tommy John surgery."
DC GM Mike Rizzo went on to say that the injury, "Certainly will [force the Nats] to have to make adjustments on how we look at the free agent market and the trade market and how we construct the team for the future. It's one less inventory of quality pitching that we have to locate, be it by free agency, through the system or be it by trade."
(ed. note - "The former DC GM was sure to sneak in a quick question about Adam Dunn before the interview ended, Mr. Rizzo's response when asked if negotiations had gotten any further, "We're in communications with his people, we've been in communications for a long time, we're still discussing things.")
(Also: Jordan Ruby at SBNDC caught the Nats' GM in an earlier interview this afternoon with Kevin Sheehan an Thom Loverro of ESPN980's The Sports Fix, check out some of the highlights HERE...)