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Strasburg, Harper, LaRoche all have surgeries

Oct 26, 2013, 11:50 AM EDT

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Three of the Nationals’ most important players underwent various surgical procedures in the last three days, the club announced Saturday morning, with Stephen Strasburg and Adam LaRoche each having their elbows repaired and Bryce Harper having his knee fixed.

All face recovery times of 4-to-6 weeks and are expected to be ready for the start of spring training, the Nationals said.

Strasburg had arthroscopic surgery on Friday to remove bone chips from his right elbow, a previously undisclosed injury. The “clean-up” procedure was performed in Los Angeles by orthopedist Neal ElAttrache.

Strasburg had to be scratched from two consecutive September starts with what the Nationals said at the time was “forearm tightness,” an ailment he experienced while playing catch the day before he was scheduled to pitch. The right-hander did return to make two final starts before the season ended and reported no problems, but the forearm tightness may have been a byproduct of the elbow injury.

“I don’t really know why it’s happening,” he said upon missing his first appearance. “When it happens, it happens. It’s like a strong cramp, so I just think I would put us in a bind if I went out there and felt it. We’d definitely be down some pitchers.”

This is the second time Strasburg has needed elbow surgery in his career, though this minor procedure was in no way related to the ligament replacement surgery he had in 2010.

Strasburg has dealt with a few other minor injuries since returning from the Tommy John surgery in 2011, but until now none were tied to his arm. The 25-year-old went 8-9 with a 3.00 ERA in 30 starts this season, totaling a career-high 183 innings. He’s expected to resume his throwing program in 4-to-6 weeks, though full recovery for pitchers who have bone chips removed from their elbows typically is 3-to-4 months. That should still coincide with the start of spring training.

Harper’s surgery was less of a surprise, considering the lingering left knee pain he experienced during the season’s final 4 1/2 months, all a result of his collision with the right field wall at Dodger Stadium on May 13.

The procedure Harper had performed on him Wednesday in Vail, Colo., by orthopedist Richard Steadman involved the debriding and repairing of the bursa sac in his left knee, which was damaged on the play in Los Angeles.

He spent more than a month on the disabled list and was examined by orthopedist James Andrews, who said surgery wasn’t necessary at the time, but Harper admitted at season’s end he hadn’t been 100 percent healthy since the initial collision.

Harper, who also dealt with injuries to his left hip and ribcage, wound up playing in only 118 games this season, hitting .274 with 20 homers, 58 RBI and an .854 OPS. He’s expected to resume workouts in 4-to-6 weeks and be fully healed by the start of spring training.

LaRoche endured through a difficult season himself, hitting a career-low .237 with 20 homers and 62 RBI in 152 games, but he never reported any trouble with his elbow. He had surgery on Wednesday, though, to remove loose bodies from his left elbow, a procedure performed in the District by team medical director Wiemi Douoguih.

LaRoche, who signed a two-year, $24 million contract with the Nationals last winter, will resume workouts in 4-to-6 weeks and is expected to be ready for the start of spring training.

  1. David Proctor - Oct 26, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    Amazing how much we think we know when in reality we know absolutely nothing.

    Did anyone have any idea about LaRoche’s arm injury? It would be easy to write it off, but I could see how that could affect a swing.

    And for that matter, we knew Stras had issues, but I had heard nothing about bone chips until today. Odd.

    • therealjohnc - Oct 26, 2013 at 1:17 PM

      Agreed on “amazing how much we think we know when in reality we know absolutely nothing.”

      Not that that will stop us from being insiders/experts on the next thing that we want to comment on :-)

      • passedappetizers - Oct 26, 2013 at 3:05 PM

        Amen on folks talking without knowing what they’re talking about. Come up to Section 311 sometime. There are two adult brothers up there who annoy the hell out of the rest of us all game long with what they seem to think is witty remarks and stupid chanting.

  2. philipd763 - Oct 26, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    Strasburg and Laroche…Just two more examples of management being secretive about player injuries.

    • Candide - Oct 26, 2013 at 3:09 PM

      As has been pointed out here before, you don’t want to let the other teams know what’s bothering your players unless it’s obvious. Why tip them off to what your weaknesses are?

  3. natsguy - Oct 26, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    Have you guys ever heard of HIPPA. It applies to athletes too.

    • David Proctor - Oct 26, 2013 at 3:33 PM

      I’m pretty sure athletes sign HIPAA waivers to allow teams to disclose their injuries.

      • Candide - Oct 26, 2013 at 3:48 PM

        Orioles management would not disclose the reason Machado collapsed while running to first base.

        “We’re sure he’s fine,” Orioles GM Dan Duquette stated at a post-game press conference.

        Asked why video showed Machado’s leg buckling in an alarming direction just before he collapsed, Duquette replied, “Those kinds of things happen all the time. We had him gurneyed off the field because he got a little winded running out the play.”

        Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he expected Machado to be in the lineup for tonight’s game. “Nothing wrong with him, absolutely nothing wrong. My players will tell you I’m an upfront kinda guy, and that I’d tell you if there was something wrong, and there’s nothing wrong.”

        Duquette dismissed speculation that Machado had been taken to the hospital for surgery. “He’s just there signing autographs for sick kids. Do you have any objection to that? Why shouldn’t he go cheer up some sick kids with cancer? Why do you hate sick kids with cancer? What kind of monster are you?”

  4. David Proctor - Oct 26, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    Thinking about bench bats, the Nats should target Eric Chavez. I was looking at his stats and was surprised at how productive he remains. Each of the last 2 years he’s hit .281, with an OPS over .800. He’s a free agent, coming off a 1 year, $3 million contract. Affordable.

    He was a D’Back this last year too, so maybe Williams can bring him over.

    • David Proctor - Oct 26, 2013 at 4:23 PM

      Then again, he was absolutely awful from 2008-2010. He didn’t get many ABs those years though.

  5. David Proctor - Oct 26, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    Willie Bloomquist is an interesting guy too. Another D’back (I swear it’s coincidental). Hits for high average, has a decent OBP. Free agent and only made around 1.5 mil last year. Can play all over the infield and outfield. He could be a nice replacement for Lombardozzi. Has dealt with lots of injuries though so would have to avoid overuse.

    • Candide - Oct 26, 2013 at 5:51 PM

      Another D’back (I swear it’s coincidental).

      Yeah, and Jim Bowden bringing over all the Reds castoffs was a coincidence, too…

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