Neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome:
Davey Martinez told reporters yesterday that Stephen Strasburg went to see a specialist, Dr. Gregory Pearl in Dallas, TX, after another setback in his recovery from the nerve issue in his neck which has kept him off the mound since June 1st. Unfortunately, the news was not the good kind. The bad news?
“We did get a report,” Martinez told reporters before last night’s game in Philadelphia, “... and Stephen will have surgery tomorrow. He has a neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome. So, it’s a nerve, and he opted to have the surgery and hopefully correct this and have the procedure, and hopefully he comes back and he’s ready to go next year.”
At this point, with Strasburg scheduled for surgery tomorrow, Martinez said he didn’t have a timetable for the ‘09 No. 1 overall pick’s eventual return.
“No, I don’t have any timetable or anything, but I’m assuming that he’ll be ready to go or close to being ready to go in Spring Training.”
Strasburg is the second Nats’ pitcher this season diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, with right-handed reliever Will Harris receiving the same diagnosis after dealing with issues of swelling in right hand when he threw this season.
“He went to see Dr. [Gregory] Pearl, which is the guy in Dallas that actually Will Harris went and saw,” Martinez said. “So he went to go see him and like I said, they talked about what his thoughts were and Strasburg decided last night to have the surgery, he wants to get it done right away, so he’s going to go in tomorrow.”
The issues for Strasburg and Harris are different, however.
“It’s similar. With Will’s it was a blockage of artery, with Stephen’s, it’s a nerve issue. So...”
After Strasburg dealt with inflammation in his right shoulder earlier this season, tried to get back on the mound, but had a neck strain land him back on the IL, does it now look like this was the issue all along, and it was just finally diagnosed?
“We didn’t quite know,” Martinez said, “because, he would — like I said, we all saw him out there throwing long-toss at 200 feet, he threw some really good bullpens and we thought he was progressing.
“And then he’d come back the next day and he was sore, we couldn’t figure out, they work through it, he’d go back, and again he got back, got back on the mound and he’d get sore again. So, at some point him and the medical staff had decided maybe he needs to go get looked at, and that’s what we decided to do and like I said, it’s unfortunate that this is the route we’ve got to take right now.
“For me, you really try everything you can to avoid having any kind of surgery, but I hope that when he has this procedure done that he comes back and he’s able to rehab and he’s able to get back on the mound for us.”
The procedure is a significant one for Strasburg, of course, so has there been any thought given to if he’s actually going to be able to return from this and resume his career?
“He’s having the surgery, so we’ll have to wait and see what the outcome was of the surgery, and then we’ll go from there,” Martinez said. “I mean, it’s a long rehab process, and hopefully he goes through rehab and he starts throwing, but it’s going to be a slow progression to get him back and hopefully he comes back.
“I really, right now, I’m saying that he’s going to help us in  and that’s what I got to believe.”
Diagnosing The Issue:
Will Harris was frustrated with the lack of an explanation for his issues before he finally got the thoracic outlet syndrome diagnosis, and Stephen Strasburg went through a lot and he put in a lot of work before receiving his own bad news. So is it good for Strasburg too that he finally knows what was causing all of his issues?
“Yeah, I mean, and we did go through the same thing with Will, where Will felt like he could pitch and try to pitch and did pitch, and then, you know, as we all know, that his hand would swell up and it’s a constant battle, like I said, this is something where no athlete wants to have any kind of surgery, but you know then again, you say to yourself, ‘Hey, you know what if he does have it, as for Will, right now Will is feeling pretty good, he’s got no issues, he’s building strength, at some point you say, ‘Hey, you know what, this is the best thing that can happen for me in my career,’ and hopefully these guys come back and they’re ready to help us in . That’s the way you’ve got to look at it, you know, and hopefully — I know Will, after talking to Will, he’s positive about coming back and hopefully Strasburg feels the same way, and like I said, it’s a long process, and he’s just got to bear with it, and he’s got to get strong again and build up so he can get back on that mound.”
How did Strasburg react to getting the diagnosis?
“He’s down. He’s frustrated. But hopefully after this procedure he’ll get more of a sense of what’s going to happen and what the doctors actually found, and like I said, once the procedure is done then it’s to the next hurdle, which is recovering and then starting to rehab as soon as he possibly can.”