Given his injury history, with Tommy John surgery early in his career, and issues with carpal tunnel neuritis and then thoracic outlet syndrome costing him the majority of his last three seasons, the Washington Nationals are taking a cautious approach with 33-year-old, 13-year veteran, Stephen Strasburg, who made one start back in the majors after TOS surgery back in 2021, and landed back on the Injured List with a stress reaction in his ribs last month.
“We want to know what’s going on,” manager Davey Martinez explained last week when he was asked for an update on Strasburg, “and like I’ve said, he’s going to have to go through some time where he needs to heal before we’re going to get him back on the mound. Until we know definitively what’s absolutely going on, we’re going to let him take his time. Like I said, he’s been through a lot. He worked really hard to get back. He pitched again in the big leagues and all of a sudden he got hurt again, so we want to make sure we know what’s going on before we push him back.”
What stood out in his comments after the Nationals placed Strasburg back on the IL, was a line from Martinez that said the quiet part everyone’s been thinking in the last three years, a stretch in which the ‘09 No. 1 overall pick has made eight starts total in the majors, out loud.
“We all hurt for him because he worked his butt off to get back and try to help us,” Martinez told reporters, “and he went out there, and we were so excited that he was out there. It was something else to see him out there pitching again.
“So I just hope and pray that he can come back.”
Will Strasburg be able to come back? If you hadn’t considered the possibility he might not, the line from his manager was a bit of a gut-punch, or a satori. So where do you stand? Do you think we’ll see Strasburg on the mound again for the Nationals? He’s in the 3rd year of his 7-year/$245M deal, which he signed after helping the club won the World Series in 2019, so it’s a big question for the organization going forward...
Oh, lord. At least “No” didn’t win? That’s all we got.
Your skepticism is probably well-earned, skeptics. You 12% yessers are our people though. Staying positive, Davey Martinez-style. The latest on Strasburg?
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo talked to 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies about the pitcher, who isn’t doing much right now as he and the club wait for a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
“We’re — there’s no rush because he’s right now he’s shut down as a no-throw until we figure out a game plan for him,” Rizzo explained. “But again, this is an injury that is very, very foreign to baseball players, and we’re trying to figure out the best course of action for him. Dr. ElAttrache, we’ve got experts that are looking at the case, and when we formulate a plan we’ll certainly let you guys in on it because we know everybody wants to know about it, and this guy is a historic figure in Nationals’ lore and Nationals baseball, and a guy that we’ve counted on in the past to be one of our horses, so we’ll definitely let you guys know, but it’s an injury that we’re still learning about also, and how to rehab these things the right way.”
As for any additional info on the inflammation in the rib area which was the issue after Stras fought back to make his 2022 debut?
“He had the thoracic outlet surgery, which means they remove a rib to let the nerve endings flow freer through the shoulder area and that type of thing,” Rizzo said, “... and we think it’s inflammation from the scar tissue from the surgery that may have something to do with it, but believe it or not I did not go to medical school, but I listen to these experts and I try to simplify it for myself and the people around me that it’s a painstakingly long rehab with these things, and again, we don’t have a lot of data to fall back on like Tommy John surgeries and that type of thing.”