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Stammen’s backwards path to D.C.

Feb 25, 2010, 1:12 AM EST

VIERA, Fla. — Craig Stammen first noticed the pain in his right elbow sometime last spring, back when he was still pitching in minor-league camp, with little reason to believe he'd wind up throwing more innings for the Nationals than anyone not named John Lannan.

At first, it was just some discomfort, especially on the days after he pitched. But over the course of weeks and months, it developed into a constant throbbing, to the point where Stammen knew this was more than typical aches and pains.

"I knew something was going on," he said. "But I knew this was my opportunity to make the team. So I wasn't going to say anything."

So the young right-hander kept on pitching. By the time August came to a close, he had made 19 starts with the Nationals, thrown 105 2/3 innings, beaten the Yankees in the Bronx, tossed a complete game against the Astros and racked up more big-league experience anyone ever expected from a guy who five months earlier wasn't on anyone's radar screen.

And then the pain became too much to bear anymore, so Stammen informed his coaches and his trainers the extent of the pain. Worried the injury could be something serious, maybe even a torn ligament, the rookie was relieved to learn it was merely the product of someRead more »

  1. ckstevenson - Feb 25, 2010 at 1:56 AM

    Any chance you can increase the length of the pre-jump RSS feed? I don't get a lot of chances to read Nats stuff (I use Google Reader) and would love to read your stuff more but typically get to read 1-3 things a day, if your feed had just a bit more text in it I would be more apt to click through.Thanks PS: I count myself as one of the proud 8 or so people who used to comment on your WaTi blog

  2. Doc - Feb 25, 2010 at 3:19 AM

    GMs need to zip up the orthopedic awareness of a players status. Flores, Stammen, Zimmermann, etc. are only the tip of the DL ice-berg. Along with orthopedic considerations every team needs a Rick Peterson to review all pitchers' pitching motion. Looking at Greg Mathews DL free pitching career, it's obvious that a pitchers' delivery has some better ways of getting a ball to homeplate!

  3. Mark Zuckerman - Feb 25, 2010 at 3:23 AM

    CKStevenson: My apologies, but it appears I can't do anything about the short RSS feed. The only choices it gives me are to run the entire post or only the first paragraph. Nothing in between. And I can't let the entire post run in the feed, because that allows people to read everything without ever clicking on this site. The little money I'm making off ads is predicated on actual pageviews of the site.

  4. Anonymous - Feb 25, 2010 at 3:46 AM

    I've said before and I'll say it again, Stammen will be in the rotation:-He throws strikes-He works fast, which keeps the fielders in the game (I'm looking at you #15)-As Mark notes above, he doesn't get fazed or flustered when he gets in trouble For the same reason, I see Martin getting spot #5 unless Olsen shows he can still pitch at a Major League level.Sec314

  5. Section 222 - Feb 25, 2010 at 1:36 PM

    Good story Mark, and very revealing. Did McCatty give any indication that he learned something from his experience or does he think that blowing out your arm after only six productive major league seasons is something our young pitchers should aspire to? It almost sounds like he's proud of how he battled through the pain to reach the end of his career.

  6. Todd Boss - Feb 25, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    Its a tough call; Stammen's games last year all seemed to follow a pattern. Effective early, then have the blow-up inning.Martin's numbers were better than they appeared, and the team played for him; he was the only pitcher for whom the Nats had a winning record in his starts. They were 10-5 in Martin's starts. He had ridiculous run support but he also pitched effectively.

  7. Tedv15 2 - Feb 25, 2010 at 1:53 PM

    great story Mark, love the insight.

  8. peric - Feb 26, 2010 at 1:58 AM

    @Todd Boss,Thank you I couldn't have said it better. Trevor Holder also seems to have a similar effect on the teams he pitches for.





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