Stephen Strasburg returned from over a month on the Disabled List with inflammation in his right shoulder to make one less-than-impressive start against the Atlanta Braves, giving up a total of eight hits and six earned runs in 4 2⁄3 innings before he was lifted and got into a sort of heated conversation with Washington Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer (which both pitchers said was put behind them quickly).
Strasburg ended up back on the 10-Day DL after that outing, with what the Nationals’ press release on the move described as a cervical nerve impingement in his neck.
After traveling to LA, where he received a scalene block injection, the right-hander said he had felt good after working his way back from the shoulder issue, but when it acted up, he acknowledged that he’d dealt with tightness in his neck all season.
“I did a lot of strength training to get my shoulder strength back over the six weeks, and then once I started to ramp up and get going further the symptoms started to increase again,” Strasburg explained, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman after he’d visited LA, and seen renowned orthopedist Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
“It just kind of felt good enough to go, and it just seemed like the first start I made back I wasn’t really recovering.
“So, trying to take it easy on my throwing program in-between [starts] and it just wasn’t responding.”
“The question was, ‘Why?’” He said then that he thought he finally got the answer.
“They did another EMG test,” Strasburg explained, “... and they saw that there was still a nerve impingement in there so they thought that the best solution to that was to give me what’s called a scalene block and basically they put me under and they gave me an injection of different medicines I guess, and I was very happy with the way I felt when I woke up.”
“So it’s a very encouraging,” he continued. “I think they kind of crossed all the boxes now, and it seems like something that should be good to go and I’m excited to get back out there with the guys and I want nothing more than to be there in the end and hopefully pitching again in the playoffs.”
Strasburg threw on flat ground this past Wednesday, with Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez watching, and the first-year manager said he hoped that the ‘09 No. 1 overall pick would not miss too much time.
“I watched him yesterday, and he was throwing the ball really good,” Martinez told reporters including MLB.com’s Jamal Collier.
“And that’s just throwing off flat ground, 90 feet. His shoulder feels good, so hopefully we’re beyond the whole neck thing, and we can start progressing a little quicker than normal.”
This time, however, they want to make sure Strasburg is fully healthy when he returns.
“I definitely don’t want to rush him,” Martinez said. “I want to get him back and get him back for the rest of the season.”
“He’s doing well,” Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies in his latest interview on the show this past Wednesday.
“He threw the other day, so he’s well under way with his throwing program and we hope to get him back in the near future and I think when we do I think he’s obviously going to be a huge help for us and if we can get him for the last two months of the season going down to the end of it I think it will be a huge upgrade for us and a guy that can really help carry that rotation with Mad Max.”
In 14 starts this season, Strasburg’s (6-7) with a 3.90 ERA, a 3.51 FIP, 21 walks (2.21 BB/9), 101 Ks (10.65 K/9), and a .236/.291/.413 line against in 85 1⁄3 IP.
Will he be able to stick around in the rotation once he gets back this time? Good as Tommy Milone has been filling in for Strasburg the last two times his spot came up, the Nats could use Strasburg down the stretch if they’re going to make a run.