For a couple of months, Stephen Strasburg ”stirred up the baseball world,” in his words.
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Now the Washington Nationals’ right-hander is embarking on the ”boring” process of working his way back from reconstructive elbow surgery.
In his first public comments since his Sept. 3 operation, Strasburg said in a conference call from San Diego on Tuesday that he had his cast removed about two weeks ago, has been getting his range of motion back, and ”should be starting the actual rehab process shortly.”
While waiting for that, Strasburg has been doing ”some sort of workout every single day” to stay in shape.
”I know he’s going to rehab like a monster and put his full effort into it,” Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said. ”He’s a hungry player – and he’s a hungry player that’s going to work extremely hard.”
The No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft made an electrifying debut for the Nationals on June 8, striking out 14 Pittsburgh Pirates in seven innings while earning the victory. He went 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 12 starts before getting injured last month.
”I’m chalking it up as a great season. It’s unfortunate for this to happen. But I stirred up the baseball world well enough that (it) had more people becoming Nats fans. And I know they’re going to be there when I come back in a year,” Strasburg said. ”I’m going to work as hard as I possibly can to get back out there and show everybody what I bring to the table.”
He’s been watching the last-place Nationals’ games, something he said is tough to do, because he wishes he could be playing. Instead, he’s going through what he termed ”baseball withdrawal.”
Strasburg has been spending time studying toward a degree at San Diego State, which he left after his junior year. He wound up signing a record $15.1 million, four-year contract with the Nationals.
His rehabilitation schedule has been outlined in detail, including a specific date when he should be able to throw his next professional pitch, if all goes well.
”What they’re telling me is that the more boring it is, the better,” the 22-year-old Strasburg said. ”The first few months it’s just all about letting the ligament heal and naturally recover.”
He spoke to several people who had the same Tommy John surgery that he did, including Nationals teammate Jordan Zimmermann – who is back with the team now – and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter.
One person Strasburg hasn’t chatted with lately? Washington manager Jim Riggleman.
”I’ve called him a couple times and you don’t hear back from him. (Pitching coach Steve) McCatty’s called him. He calls back during the game. That way, he knows you’re not going to be able to pick up and answer,” Riggleman said with a smile.
”I get reports on how he’s doing, and I’m very encouraged by what those reports are,” Riggleman added. ”It’s going to be a while, but we’ll get him back out there.”