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Washington Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg in preparation mode for 2021, not rehab mode

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Stephen Strasburg was missed last season, but the Nats’ 2019 World Series MVP is healthy and looking to bounce back in 2021...

Washington Nationals v Houston Astros Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Stephen Strasburg made just two starts in 2020’s 60-game COVID campaign before he had surgery for carpal tunnel neuritis in his right hand. Coming off a 2019 World Series MVP nod and having signed 7-year/$245M deal after briefly testing the free agent market, the ‘09 No. 1 overall pick ended up throwing a total of five innings last summer, but the expectation was that the 32-year-old right-hander would be able to make a full recovery and return in 2021.

Back in mid-December 2020, both GM Mike Rizzo and Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez updated reporters on Strasburg’s progress as he rehabbed from the surgical procedure.

“He was just reexamined on the 4th of December,” Rizzo said. “He’s coming along great, he should be full-go for Spring Training.

“He began his throwing program a couple weeks ago and he’s progressing nicely, so we feel that he should be full-go by the beginning of Spring Training.”

“He’s still doing his physical therapy,” Martinez added. “He feels really good. He’s going to be ready to go come Spring Training.”

“He’s thrown a little bit. Right now, we’re kind of at the point where we feel like he’s just at a regular winter, and just getting ready to build up for Spring Training.”

Strasburg’s 2019 campaign ended with the right-hander (18-6) with a 3.32 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 56 walks, 251 Ks, and a .210/.271/.349 line against in 33 starts and 209 IP. It didn’t end there.

He went (5-0) with a 1.98 ERA, a 2.39 FIP, four walks, 47 Ks, and a .221/.239/.368 line against over six games, five starts, and 36 1⁄3 innings pitched in the postseason.

While the right-hander didn’t throw a bullpen session on the first day of workouts in West Palm Beach on Thursday, the Nats’ manager said Strasburg was doing well and would be throwing today.

“He’s going to get ready to start the season just like normal. A normal Spring Training for him,” Martinez told reporters in his first Zoom call this spring.

“He looks good. He looks great actually. And he feels good which is the most important thing.

“With that being said, we all know he threw five innings last year, so we’re going to keep a close eye on him and just kind of build him up.”

“I saw him the last couple days,” Rizzo said when he too was asked about Strasburg. “Doing his preparation exercises and his workouts, and he feels fit and he looks ready to go.”

Barring any issues or setbacks, Strasburg is still on schedule to be ready for the start of the 2021 season.

“I think he’s on schedule in his preparation for the regular season mode. He’s certainly not in a rehabilitation mode,” Rizzo explained.

“We’re going to treat him like we treat him every other year, although he didn’t get many innings in last year so that may affect [Pitching Coach] Jim Hickey’s preparation to get him to the regular season, but he is in preparation mode, not in rehabilitation mode.”