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Why Strasburg in September makes sense

Aug 5, 2011, 2:28 PM EST

US Presswire file photo
Stephen Strasburg has packed his bags and is leaving Viera.

It's been nearly one year since Stephen Strasburg last threw a pitch in the major leagues, that fateful, 91-mph changeup to Domonic Brown in Philadelphia in which the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow snapped and derailed perhaps the most-hyped rookie season in baseball history.

Strasburg has been mostly out of sight and out of mind since. That's usually the case with pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery, who seem to drop off the face of the earth while rehabbing in Florida or Arizona, away from the spotlight of the big leagues.

So perhaps it took people by surprise this week when the Nationals revealed Strasburg's rehab in Viera is complete and he'll begin a minor-league rehab assignment Sunday in Hagerstown. Even more surprising to some, the Nats intend to activate Strasburg off the disabled list in early September and have him make four or five big-league starts before season's end.

For those who had all but forgotten about the right-hander, these developments might have come out of the blue. Wow, just like that, Strasburg is ready to come back?

For some, this plan doesn't make sense. Like Rob Dibble. You remember him. Former Nationals broadcaster. Got fired last September for a string of ill-fated statements on the air, includingRead more ยป

  1. CN - Aug 5, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    Thanks, Mark. I've been meaning to ask about the 30-day window. How was Zimmermann (per Wa Po) able to go through a rehab stint last year from early June – Aug (obviously going past this 30 day window)?"Last year, when Jordan Zimmermann went through the same final stage of Tommy John rehab before returning to the majors, he made 10 minor league starts, a process that lasted from early June to late August."

  2. CN - Aug 5, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    ^^^ I need reading comprehension, I didn't realize Zimm'nn was optioned to 'Cuse.Honestly, that question had been on my mind for a couple weeks and I threw it out there before reading the full article. Thanks & Sorry!!

  3. joemktg - Aug 5, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    One word describes this posting: perspective.Thanks.

  4. Steve M. - Aug 5, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    Mark Z, perfectly written. Not much to add to it. This site had part of the transcripts and some funny comments:

  5. greg - Aug 5, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    dibble is, and always will be, an idiot. while he occasionally says things that make sense, he has zero capability of seeing anything beyond the tip of his own nose. he's so incredibly self-focused that he can't comprehend the rest of the world or how anyone could do anything differently than he would.

  6. Grandstander - Aug 5, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    Isn't the 30-day window moot because the rosters expand in September? Nothing gets on my nerves more than national writers/knuckleheads who just love to crap on this team and write about how inept it is. We're the Rodney Dangerfield of MLB. Anyone who has followed the Strasburg rehab even tangentially knows this is what he's on pace for and the Nats aren't risking their #1 starter for "some butts in the seats". You'd have to be as stupid as Rob Dibble to believe that and he just proved it.

  7. baseballswami - Aug 5, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    Dibble is a jerk of the first degree. Jordan Zimmermann, quite accidently , has been great for Stephen Strasburg – he blazed the trail of how this should be done. And – SS is so competitive that he will want to keep right up with JZ. Those starts last year were extremely valuable to knck off the rust and get in "real" games before the off season. Psychologically, you go into the off season knowing why you are working out and preparing. The next spring training they can start fresh, right with every other player. I can find things to criticize our organization about – but the way they handled JZ was spot on. I expect that SS will follow his path. Quite interesting they way they are tag teaming one another, isn't it? JZ takes over for SS last year – SS takes over for JZ this year – next year — WE GET THEM BOTH!!! Just really wish Pudge could be catching him on Sunday – and that he gets better and we see him again this season.

  8. HHover - Aug 5, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    Frankly, my hat's off to Dibble. He has nothing to say, and yet keeps managing to make himself part of the conversation. That's not easy.Thanks to Mark Z for having a lot to say, and saying it so well.

  9. Anonymous - Aug 5, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    I'm confused on what people think Strasburg should be doing if not pitching in games? What's their plan for Strasburg?

  10. Anonymous - Aug 5, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    Thank you, Mark. I almost lost my **** yesterday when I read Dibble's comments. How do you get a job analyzing baseball and not understand this concept? He has to keep pitching/rehabbing. Period. The minor league season ends in a month. WTF do you want him to do, Dibble? Complete moron.

  11. Unkyd - Aug 5, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    "Shocked, SHOCKED…." The Captain Renault line always induces a chuckle, for me….(hehehe)

  12. natsfan1a - Aug 5, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    I never had a problem with Dibble, but I have noticed that some of those folks who don't like him sure seem to care a lot about what he thinks. I wasn't a Bowden fan by the end, but I also don't give a rat's patoot what he says when he pops off about the Nats from time to time. We're each entitled to our opinion.Thanks to Mark for the perspective on the SS comeback. I hope that fan expectations aren't too high for his initial return to the bigs. I'm thinking that it's probably better for everybody not to expect "Strasmas" right off the bat.

  13. Anonymous - Aug 5, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    Other than sell ugly t-shirts, it seems like diddle is going to spend his life making outrageous comments about SS. Sad, really. It gets him some much needed attention. But it's the only thing he has going for him; hitch himself to someone better professionally and, seemingly, as person.

  14. Jimmy D - Aug 5, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: FP Santangelo is the man. Nothing like another meat-headed Dibble comment to remind me of just how fortunate we are to get to listen to FP most every night. Finally, my wife will watch games with me at home with the volume on (she asked me to turn it off when Dibble spoke, this was long before he mocked the women in the seats behind home plate. Her words: "How can you listen to that moron for three hours every night?" It wasn't easy hon. I hate to think Dibble was canned for ill-fated statements. Because his tenure here was marred, more importantly, by his routinely terrible performance as a color commentator. No valuable insight, no translation of nuances, only cliches and tired conventional wisdom. Ok. End rant. Happy to see Stras coming along nicely. JZimm is certainly the obvious reference point for Nats fans. And yes, we are very happy with how he was handled.

  15. MikeD - Aug 5, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    Dibble is a hump

  16. Anonymous - Aug 5, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    Dibble is a true clown. On one hand, he blasts Strasburg for being a baby and blasts the Nationals for coddling him. Then, when it suits him, he blasts the Nationals for sending Strasburg to a certain career-ending injury for the purpose of selling tickets at the end of a losing season. Which is it, Clown Dibble? Do the Nats want to coddle Strasburg or destroy him? Make up your mind!I believe the Nationals' organization is serious about taking care of their players and also looking our for the players' families. We have no evidence otherwise, and we have honest evidence from dozens of players that this is a class organization that looks out for its people.Was Ryan Zimmerman (ever) rushed back from injury to put butts in seats? Nick Johnson? Ankiel? Pudge? Willingham? Cordero? There is NO evidence Dibble, and you are really slandering good people by saying these things.There is no doubt about the fact that the Lerners have been wildly successful in business. Do we believe they are sitting in the front office with Rizzo, saying "Let's rush Strasburg, and blow his arm out in 5 starts in 2011. That's smarter than not injuring him, when we believe he can be a 20-game winner for us for 10 years and take the franchise to the World Series."Dibble is a poisonous punk.

  17. MC 703 - Aug 5, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    At first I didn't like FP. I thought he was too soft spoken and some of the stuff as he explained was kinda "duh" baseball stuff. But with every game I watch I realize I am learning more and more and more than I ever learned watching other color guys. I (gasp) missed Dibs at first. FP FTW!

  18. Bigfish - Aug 5, 2011 at 4:36 PM

    I like FP's analysis, too. But I think he's explored the issue of Espi using a heavier bat WAY more than long enough ๐Ÿ˜‰ BTW, did anyone watching last night's game in HD experience occasional (but extremely irritating) drop-outs of his/her picture? I'd say I was having hot flashes, but I'm a guy.

  19. Not Werth It - Aug 5, 2011 at 4:39 PM

    To whoever asked, The Nats were/are able to get around the 30 day window with Zimnn and Strasburg because they have minor league options left and can simply be reassigned to the minors after 30 days. For players without options, like Wang, they must be called up or have new DL designations.So, looks to me that unless there is a setback, the second day of Strasmas will be Friday the 12th at Potomac. Hagerstown is away that day, and Potomac is the next logical step- the field condition issues shouldn't effect the mound. Mark your calenders, right Mark?

  20. Anonymous - Aug 5, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    I definitely liked FP from the get-go. His detailed knowledge of some of the finer points of baseball is pretty awesome. Have to admit I wonder why it is he didn't pursue the track to managing a ball club someday? Dibble really had very little of any real substance to say relative to the finer points of the game. My guess is he is on the Howard Stern sports track. Makes me laugh to see Ray Knight getting down on the field to make us believe he knows the finer points of hitting. I think I'd rather hear them from Frank Howard who gleaned a lot from Ted Williams. I also note that Davey Johnson appears to have more respect for Howard than he does Knight. Why then isn't Howard next to Johnny Holiday? It would sure be a welcome sight from my perspective. I am just about done with ex-Cincinatti Reds like Dibble and Knight. Bowden is gone let's take out the rest of his trash and leave it at the curb.

  21. flynnie321 - Aug 5, 2011 at 4:45 PM

    I agree with everything natsfan1a said, and use 1a's analysis from last night's game post to categorize the bad odour towards Dibble as situational crankiness (from the last two losses) and specific crankiness (from Dibble's foray into sports medicine.) I recommend this to all here. The BBTF primate's comments on the Verducci article are really thought-provoking, especially in light of Dibble's conclusion that the current front office "thinks they invented the game of baseball and can do things differently than anybody else. Dibble's firing was unintended collateral damage from what was supposed to be an apology in Kasten's office. But there was too much testosterone in the room. Both Dibs and Kasten ended up with voices and tempers raised, and Kasten fired him.

  22. NatStat - Aug 5, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    It's hard to be a 'creative' color guy for every game, but like MC 703 I continue to learn things from FP. He gives good insight and game analysis that puts him ahead of most, if not all, basebll analysts.His broadcast skills are pretty good too!Disappointed in Dibble; given his professional pitching background, and that his father taught professional broadcast skills, Dibble should have been able to take his sports' reporter career to a higher level.

  23. Natslifer - Aug 5, 2011 at 5:01 PM

    My jury's still out on the Lerners but I assume that they have the final say in something as important as when Strasburg comes back and can't believe even they would risk something as important as Strasburg's arm in any way.That said, Mark, do you have any access to a doctor that's looking at him? Maybe I missed it where someone said this, but I think the quickest way to end all this noise is for someone in the organization to say "he is healthy, we've had two different doctors look at him and both have said he's ready to go so there's no reason why he shouldn't be pitching."

  24. Anonymous - Aug 5, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    OK i'll play the "dibble's" advocate:JZ had 10 minor-league starts lasting 50+ days (7/4 – 8/26). SS will have five, at most. He needs to pitch more games in the minor leagues, period. Find something else for him before sending him to AFL, is the right way. If people have issue with Wang pitching in rehab mode in MLB, why wouldn't it be the same for SS? We saw first hand how that went for Wang, and it's not pretty. And what Mark said about "…this is going to be an incredibly controlled environment…" is strictly following the company line. How can you control an MLB game? First of all the intensity and the strains put on players are not comparable between the minors and the majors. And do you pull him out after a 30-pitch, 6-ER, no-out first inning? And then let him throw the rest of pitch in the pen to reach the quota? Lastly, You think one year from now the Lerners will be glad the Nationals let Stephen Strasburg come back to make five starts at the end of 2011? You better believe it.

  25. Anonymous - Aug 5, 2011 at 5:05 PM

    Nobody really cares about Dibbles dribbles…JTinSC

  26. WhatsaNattaU - Aug 5, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    Mark, I would be a fan of yours even if you hadn't written this piece, but … you did and I am glad. Not to take down Dibble, because I'm sure that was NOT the point, but because facts always are better than bull. (The dig on Dibble though … epic!!! A bonus.)

  27. JaneB - Aug 5, 2011 at 5:18 PM

    I don't think we need any doctor reports to verify whether he's healthy or not. Whatever anyone thinks of Rizzo, or Davey, or the Lerners, I think we can all agree that they totally value SS, now and for the future, and that they are NOT going to do anything to damage him and the franchise. How do we know he is healthy enough to pitch? We watch him.Sharing in the FP love. I am looking forward to Ray finding another team to work for, somehow, where the gifts he wants to share can be shared, and we can have a guy who talk about the team, rather than his relationships with the team. But that's just me.Finally, this is (in my view) one of your best pieces, Mark. I hope these guys you work for truly value what you bring, because it's a whole 'nother league from what any Nats fans get anywhere else.I wish I wasn't too much of a wuss to wiggle out of my Sunday commitment so I could see Stras in his Suns uniform.

  28. Anonymous - Aug 5, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    How can you control an MLB game? First of all the intensity and the strains put on players are not comparable between the minors and the majors. And do you pull him out after a 30-pitch, 6-ER, no-out first inning? And then let him throw the rest of pitch in the pen to reach the quota?The Nats aren't going anywhere this year. That's a foregone conclusion we can pretty much make. September is the time of the year for extended rosters at the end of the minor league season. With the exception of Jim Riggleman (respect the game, respect the veterans) most teams in the Nat's position bring up their better prospects to as DJ said, get their feet wet in the majors. To see how far they've progressed. Why would Strasburg pitching in September be any different?Is it a controlled environment? At home vs. the road yes definitely easier to accomplish all things considered. What does that mean? Strasburg (just like in the minors) will only pitch games at home. Fortunately, for Nats management most games will be at home in September. So, that shouldn't be a problem. Its likely they will also look at other players like Milone, Peacock, Stammen perhaps Meyers and hey perhaps another rehabber by the name of Garret Mock. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  29. Carpe Diem - Aug 5, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    Dibble said, "you know, having worked with those people, the only thing I can say is that there are some people there that think they invented the game of baseball. Which they did not." Was he talking about Kasten? LOL If so, he is gone.

  30. MicheleS - Aug 5, 2011 at 5:30 PM

    Mark ZThanks for the explanation on JZ's options/time frame back. I watched ESPN and they had there Physical Therapist comment on Stras' progress and she went through the same things you said. Her comment was.. IF there are NO setbacks, then he should pitch in the Majors for the exact same reasons that you said. She also stated that there is a LONG history for the road back from TJ surgery and SS is on track with that!As far as Dibble goes.. whatever. I like FP and hope he and Carp can stay together. FP doesn't insert himself into the team and make is seem like he could be down there on the team playing. He explains so much more from a fielding and hitting perspective. Last night he was making comments on how to play the OF in Coors. It was great. Actual insight from someone who knew the quirks of that park!

  31. baseballswami - Aug 5, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    On the FP bandwagon for sure, and he teams up real well with Carp. One of the reasons, for me, is that he is not a pitcher. Sutton and Dibble both only viewed the game from a pitcher's perspective and that was a problem. Since FP played and coached he has a broader view. Even though I am older, I like that he is younger and has been in the game more recently. The other guys are all old. Ray Knight is auditioning to be his man-love Davey Johnson's hitting coach. It's getting tiresome. DJ could bat the pitcher clean-up and Ray would think it was the best managing decision ever.

  32. sunderland - Aug 5, 2011 at 6:15 PM

    There's got to be a better term than "Tommy John survivors". And put me in the "It makes sense to keep Strasburg pitching, cautiously, like we know the Nats will, Dibble is just noise, I like FP more and more very day, and Carpenter fully deserves to be extended" camp.

  33. sjm308 - Aug 5, 2011 at 6:45 PM

    Another point about controlling the environment. You have to know that the major league environment is much more controlled and also the facilities, training staff, field etc are top notch. Its just a reality that whether he is pitching in Nationals Park or Citi Field he will have an advantage to pitching in Syracuse or Potomac. And yes, if he reaches his pitch count and is losing 12-0 or has a no hitter, he will come out, pure and simple. This will be monitored just like JZ last year. What they are doing here is totally geared toward 2012.

  34. Anonymous - Aug 5, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    Dibble said, "you know, having worked with those people, the only thing I can say is that there are some people there that think they invented the game of baseball."It's easy to see how Dibble came to this conclusion. Someone told him that Abner Doubleday didn't invent baseball, and no one named Abner Doubleday was working for the Nationals. Ergo, the inventor of baseball must have been working for the Nationals.

  35. Natslifer - Aug 5, 2011 at 6:56 PM

    Jane – I think your comments are coming my way. I'll put it a different way. Strasburg should pitch in the minors/here first and foremost when he's cleared to do that medically. None of us can tell what's happening inside his arm by watching him pitch (could you tell he was about to tear it when he tore it last year?). If I were in Rizzo's shoes, I'd be very transparent about what his doctors are saying because that's who I'd be relying on first to allow SS to get from one step to the next.

  36. Mark'd - Aug 5, 2011 at 7:02 PM

    FPs humidor story of the Rockies was very interesting. I also like how he is so self deprecating in Bob Uecker style.He also never makes Carp look bad when Carp calls in his HR tone the hard hit liner ……..that goes 20 feet foul. Whoops. Carp must misjudge 3 to 5 balls a game.

  37. baseballswami - Aug 5, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    Mark'D – you are right about Carp – but it's part of his charm. FP doesn't try to change him – just goes with it. I love FP's turns of phrase that have become legend already. It's not that he never says anything is wrong – he just uses humor and is diplomatic. GYFNG! Let's play some good old fashioned country hard ball! ( in honor of FP, of course)

  38. RPrecupjr - Aug 5, 2011 at 7:29 PM

    I also enjoyed that bit about the humidor. Hard to believe they came up with this idea to sort of level the playing field, if you will, but had no one supervising it….except the home team!! Talk about opening a can of worms….but it made me wonder why the Marlins don't ask for a dryer for their home games, given the humidity in South Florida ๐Ÿ˜‰

  39. JaneB - Aug 5, 2011 at 7:40 PM

    For those of us who missed the humidor story — please recap. It sounds fun.Natslifer — all I meant to say is I don't need a doc to tell me what they see. If they are sending him out, they must think the coast is clear. They don't need to prove it to me. Speaking for myself, that is.I also don't like "Tommy John Survivor." How about, "Tommy John ENHANCED" instead?GYFNG!

  40. Feel Wood - Aug 5, 2011 at 7:50 PM

    Strasburg should wear a T shirt that says "I Survived Tommy John Surgery and All I Got Was This Lousy T Shirt." But he's too serious, no sense of humor, so he won't. The Zimmermen(n) are also too serious, so they'd never do something like that either. But Morse would, and so would Harper.

  41. Section 222 - Aug 5, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    Ok, the FP bandwagon seems to be really picking up steam here, but I'll express the minority view. He has some interesting things to say, but he talks too d*&^ much. The color guy doesn't need to weigh in after every pitch or play. He also beats his point into the ground, saying the same thing several times in only slightly different ways. The humidor story was a good example. Made it about him and how smart he was to have figured out there was something fishy going on. Did anyone every confess or prove that the Rockies were cheating? That would have been interesting to know, no? And he came back to the point again and again. Another prime example was when Bernadina stepped on the plate as tried to bunt for a hit during the O's series. FP just wouldn't let it go. It was embarrassing, and you could just imagine the Orioles' announcers cringing. He and Carp also complain way too much about Twitter and blogs. Would anyone here like to go back to the pre-internet, pre-social media days? Fans are so much more engaged and have so many more outlets for their passion now. FP and Carp need to accept that. Yes, some tweets are erroneous or annoying. Big deal. Several times a game I roll my eyes at something FP says. I try to tell myself, "well, it comes with the business. It's hard to be an announcer and not say at least one stupid thing." And then I listen to Charlie and Dave, and I realize that it might be hard, but it's not impossible.Still, he's way better than Dibble. Oy.

  42. Natslifer - Aug 5, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    Being a diehard, I totally agree. But for the Dibbles of the world I'd rather have them questioning a doctor's decision and not Rizzo's.Love "TJ Enhanced" – if Steve Austin were still around, we'd work in "Bionic" somewhere too.

  43. Golfersal - Aug 5, 2011 at 8:05 PM

    Dibble should just suck it up, it's bad blood and again he is putting his foot in his mouth before thinking.I agree that Rizzo and the Nats aren't doing this to put butts in the seats and I think some short starts will be great for him. They did that with Zimmerman last year and I think it's helped him and will help Strasberg. Is nice to hear from Dibble, I really miss him but don't miss the Dibble that would say something stupid like this

  44. sjm308 - Aug 5, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    They probably could not work this out but why don't they think about adding Charlie and Dave to the TV broadcast? You could rotate 3 people between both booths (not sure how FP would do on the radio side but its worth a shot). This is probably not done and maybe physically not feasible but I love them on the radio and don't see why that would not transfer over to the screen. Just a thought.

  45. Traveler8 - Aug 5, 2011 at 9:05 PM

    @ SJM, I think that TV and radio are quite different media, and radio on TV does not work – I can see the action myself and don't need to have it minutely explained. Also, the TV broadcasters can go for a while (a few seconds, not minutes, although at times that would be welcome) without talking because the viewers are watching something, whereas on radio it is dead air. This is why I don't like Vin Scully, who was originally on radio, who just talks non-stop on TV, which is not necessary.

  46. SilverSpring8 - Aug 5, 2011 at 9:05 PM

    Mark:What about fall ball or winter ball? I'm not expressing an opinion, just wondering if the Nats feel he could use more work after the end of the regular season.

  47. FLANatsFan - Aug 5, 2011 at 9:57 PM

    Mark,To change the subject and get away from all this "dribble" stuff, have you or anyone heard anything more of the possibility of the Nats relocating their spring training site to here in Fort Myers? As you may know the city is building a new spring training site for the Red Sox and City of Palms Park will be for the taking. I would love to see them here and they would not have to travel as far as they do in Viera.

  48. Anonymous - Aug 5, 2011 at 10:05 PM

    Game post is up!

  49. sm13 - Aug 6, 2011 at 12:02 AM

    Jane B: the humidor story in a nutshell…FP said he wondered on his radio show last year why the Rockies finished with such great 2nd half records the last couple of years and whether it could be that they give themselves non-humidor balls to hit. He had an ex-umpire confirm that the Rockies have control of the humidor, with no league supervision. When he raised the issue, the Giants formally inquired of the league and now MLB has control of the humidor so there can be no foul play — it's now assured that both teams play with humidor balls.I think I got it right.

  50. Anonymous - Aug 6, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    How about if Harrisburg or Potomac make the playoffs?

  51. SonnyG10 - Aug 6, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    Being controvercial and saying outrageous things is how Dibble makes his living. Some people really like that.I was a Dibble fan when he was here, but not because of his outrageousness. I liked the fact he was such a homer for the Nats. That's how I like my announcers. However, FP is just as good a homer and is better in a lot of other ways, so I really like him now. He is funny and he really has a lot of interesting things to say, imo.I used to really like Ray Knight, but I'm growing a little weary of him now. I like him as a person, but…I agree with Traveler8 on the mixing of radio and tv announcers for the reasons he mentioned.Finally, I have no worries about the plan for Strasburg. I am sure the Nats will take every precaution and are guided by the successes of previous TJ patients.



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