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Strasburg begins the long road back

Feb 17, 2011, 10:03 PM EDT

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg threw for about 15 minutes today from 45 feet.

VIERA, Fla. — It was, as Stephen Strasburg succinctly described it, “just another another day.”

And on the surface, there was nothing special about the tasks Strasburg performed Thursday morning during the Washington Nationals’ first official workout of the spring. He played catch for 15 minutes, tossing a ball gently back and forth with head trainer Lee Kuntz. He fielded comebackers off the bat of a minor-league coach. He received some bunting instructions from hitting coach Rick Eckstein.

Pretty mundane stuff, really. And yet, even the most mundane tasks carry special meaning right now for Strasburg, who five months removed from Tommy John surgery is beginning to feel like a real ballplayer again. He’s still got a long way to go before he pitches in a big-league game again. But Strasburg has a clear goal in mind: Return to the mound in September.

“Yeah, it’s obviously a goal,” he said. “But it’s out of my control. All I can do is just go out there and do the throwing program, execute the schedule. And if they feel like I’m ready at the end of the year to go out there and pitch, awesome. That’s going to be great. But it’s going to be a decision they’re going to have to make.”

Read my full story on Strasburg’s first day in camp on CSNwashington.com.

  1. Doc - Feb 17, 2011 at 10:26 PM

    Medical compliance is probably the most significant variable in successful recovery from 'Tommy John' surgery; and SS has that stuff down in spades. He's an individual that has learned the lessons of hard work, which as he has noted, will not go unrewarded. It's gonna happen SS!!!

  2. Anonymous - Feb 17, 2011 at 11:31 PM

    Looks like Strasburg is not the only one who is taking this season really seriously. Corey Brown, Roger Bernadina, Pudge … all came to ST in superior shape … who's next?

  3. Theophilus - Feb 18, 2011 at 12:01 AM

    Often, it seems, when a noteworthy number of players put in extra effort at off-season conditioning, it reflects their feeling that the coming season holds the potential for significant team accomplishments.

  4. David - Feb 18, 2011 at 12:05 AM

    I'm surprised no one is talking about the blog-article in the NY Times about the possibility that Pujols will be a Nat next year.http://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/mr-pujols-goes-to-washington-it-makes-sense/?ref=sports

  5. BinM - Feb 18, 2011 at 12:28 AM

    @David: No-one is talking about what might be a lower than 10% chance of something happening with Pujols in 2012 because 2011 just started. One thing at a time, son, one thing at a time. Come back in June with that question & we'll probably be ready to discuss it.

  6. Anonymous - Feb 18, 2011 at 12:39 AM

    Although the chances of it actually happening are slim, having the Nats sign Pujols next winter is a lot more likely than them being able to snag Cliff Lee was in the last FA round. Cliff Lee as a Nat was never going to happen, but Pujols as a Nat might. Seriously.

  7. Theophilus - Feb 18, 2011 at 12:48 AM

    David — I agree w/ BinM, there are more important things to talk about, like who's gonna be the designated hitter in the 18 interleague games. But if you really want something to hold onto, I think the Nats are one of only four teams that could bag Pujols, with the caveat that St. Louis holds most of the cards (so to speak). (Others being LAA and Chicago Northsiders.)

  8. BinM - Feb 18, 2011 at 1:06 AM

    Regarding Strasburg – If he's throwing off a mound at 90% by July, he's way ahead of schedule; Maybe he'll get some rehab starts in August, but then what does the team do with him in September (once the minor-league seasons are complete)? We'll just have to see how this one plays out – I'd like to be optimistic, but can't go that far yet.

  9. BinM - Feb 18, 2011 at 1:37 AM

    Nowadays, any 40-man player who doesn't come into camp in "game-ready" shape is already behind the curve. Minor-league NRI's can be hard-pressed to make a team as well, due in part to financial restrictions (it's hard to hire a personal/group trainer when you grossed 65k & may have a family to support), or advancing age (it's a game where younger looks better when statistics are equal). Best of luck to the guys who can find their way past that, and climb onto a 25-man Opening Day roster, on any team. You've beaten huge odds to get there; Regale in the moment, then prove you belong. Let the competition begin once again…

  10. Carl in 309 - Feb 18, 2011 at 8:23 AM

    From Strasburg, to bunting, to Pujols, it is great to be able to follow what's going on while on the road–in my case, the Arabian Peninsula (at least today!). Thanks Mark for keeping us close to the action while the headlines elsewhere are dominated by the English Premier League and the Cricket World Cup!

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