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Strasburg done rehabbing, expects normal spring training

Jan 25, 2014, 5:18 PM EDT

Strasburg, Nats get back on track

Three months after having surgery to remove loose bodies from his right elbow, Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg is fully past the rehab process and feeling great. At this point, just weeks before pitchers and catchers report, he’s moving through the final days of winter as if the procedure never even happened.

“It’s not considered rehab anymore,” he said. “I feel great. I’m on a normal schedule. I’m throwing, lifting, running, the whole shebang. Just getting ready for spring training, I’ve got no problems.”

Strasburg had the surgery shortly after the 2013 season ended, and despite feeling tightness in his elbow towards the end of the year, does not believe it affected his performance in games. Strasburg says it was more on days after starts that his arm would act up.

“There wasn’t really a game out there where I feel like it affected my pitching,” he said.

“The way loose bodies work is that when you get hot and you get the blood flowing, your arm straightens out and you feel normal. But it was really the day after, trying to play catch, and trying to throw bullpen and stuff when it became difficult. Trying to get my arm and elbow back and flexible because of the loose bodies in there.”

The discomfort got so bad he had trouble straightening his arm all the way out on days after starts. As it worsened he realized he needed it examined by the training staff.

Strasburg would feel better as he got further removed from starts and continued pitching every fifth day.

“At the time I wanted to go out there and compete. I feel like it was something I was able to do, go out there and pitch at a high level. I’m excited for how it feels now because at the time I didn’t really know what it was,” he said.

Strasburg will report to spring training in Viera, Fla. on Feb. 13, the date Nationals pitchers and catchers are expected to arrive. As of now he does not expect to be limited in his participation, whether it be fielding drills at first or in games once the Grapefruit League schedule begins.

“Everything that I hear and everything that I’m expecting is that it’s normal. I feel great doing my normal offseason routine and I don’t feel like there’s any reason why I should be held back if I’m feeling good come spring training.”

Strasburg met new manager Matt Williams for the first time at NatsFest on Saturday and says he is excited to play for him. He referred to the former All-Star as “intense.”

“I think that’s going to be good for this club,” Strasburg said.

Strasburg is also thrilled to have pitching coach Steve McCatty back after the change at manager. It gives the Nats’ rotation some continuity and brings back a mentor they very much respect.

“It’s awesome. I love having Cat there in my corner. I think a lot of the other guys in the rotation would say the same. He’s a guy that you can trust. If you go out there and get shelled or you go out there and pitch well, he’s not going to treat you any different.”

Strasburg, 25, is entering his fifth season in the majors with specific areas of his game he hopes to improve. Pitching 200 innings is a milestone he still hopes to achieve, but there are also little things he plans to work on this spring.

“Definitely work on my pickoff move, work on timing out of the stretch, work on commanding fastballs on both sides of the plate, sinkers on both sides of the plate,” he said.

“I just try and take that next evolution, try to get more complete.”

  1. Sonny G 10 - Jan 25, 2014 at 7:08 PM

    I like that he’s going to work on his pick-off move.

  2. Another_Sam - Jan 25, 2014 at 7:28 PM

    I know there’s been lots of speculation — much of it from me, BTW. But what’s the feeling on RyanZ’s physical condition — his arm, shoulder, and throwing? I still don’t buy that it was mental at all last year. I’m thinking all physical.

    • David Proctor - Jan 25, 2014 at 7:32 PM

      Well he looked good at the end of the year. Matt Williams said Ryan is fully healthy for the first time in years…so we’ll see.

      Apparently he said at a Q&A today that Ryan would also be getting some starts at 1B against some tough lefties. That’s not really breaking news, but interesting nonetheless. Scott Hairston is also preparing to start some at 1B. Sounds like they don’t want LaRoche ever starting against a lefty, but if Zim and Hairston play over there, I’m not sure exactly where that leaves Tyler Moore.

    • ArVAFan - Jan 25, 2014 at 8:05 PM

      Ryan told a mutual acquaintance at the end of August that “my shoulder finally feels right”. That’s about the same time he threw overhand across the diamond, and went on that home run tear.

      I’m sure there was some mental frustration there as well–wondering why, when the doctors told him “you’ll be fine by June” and then he wasn’t. Wondering if it would ever feel “right” again. Embarrassed and frustrated by the errors and knowing he wasn’t helping the team. But the mental came from the physical. That’s how I see it. YMMV.

  3. sjm308 - Jan 25, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    One of the more intelligent comments from a post by unkyd in the article on Natsfest, mentioned the possibility in the future of having 4 potential gold gloves in the infield if & when Zimm moves to first. My first thoughts when that was presented last year was that it was not going to happen. I honestly thought Ryan would overcome whatever the issues were and I think as Mr. Proctor noted here, and ArVaFan added to, he was doing a whole lot better by the end of the year. If that is the case, I would not be in a hurry to move him. He is only 29 and there are many many wonderful 3rd basemen who handle the position well into their 30s. My only concern is that he goes back to playing deeper and showing more range. I think even though his arm was better late in the season, he did not adjust where he was playing and that hurt both him and the team defensively.

    One last comment. I truly enjoyed the interviews today on 106.7. Not the idiot talking heads because they basically asked the same questions to almost every player. But I just heard a relaxed manner from almost each of our guys. Baseball is just such a different sport. They all tell their stories and seem comfortable with things. Gio cracks me up and Harper really handles himself well for his age although he was probably the most cliched of any of our guys. He also probably has to do way more interviews than the others. I liked how Stamman said he could go to Clippard and he would tell him the truth about how he was pitching. That is the kind of thing you don’t get as a fan and shows again how important he is to our bullpen.

    I got upset with our usual Mr. Negative earlier today and am still not happy with him using a disease that has caused my family a great deal of pain to define a player. I thought at one point I might enjoy an in-person banter back and forth with him because our basic philosophies are so different, but right now I am thinking that will never happen. I am pissed.

    • NatsLady - Jan 26, 2014 at 1:09 AM

      (a) Pictures. The team, MASN and lots of fans put pictures up on Facebook and Twitter. Like, in the hundreds of pictures..

      (b) Regarding Danny and Bryce. They both did basically the same thing, that is, attempt to play hurt. One is called a “cancer” and the other skates with a “just don’t do it again.” A couple of fans said (via Twitter) that they spent a half-hour in the bar on Friday night chatting with Danny, that he was open and frank about his situation. Probably both Danny and Bryce learned from their experience.

      • water47 - Jan 26, 2014 at 8:18 AM

        So, I was find the knocking of players for various reasons a tough decision. We all have a right to our own opinions, which are formed by our own observations and perspectives. This is the forum to express those opinions and if we wish to make a forceful argument sometimes we do it with just words, other times we bolster them with facts or anecdotes. We, also, try to gaze behind the curtain and see more than we actually know. This is all part of the joy of our fanatic support of our team.

        Hey, I have never met Danny Espinosa but I sense a man who is struggling to do better. He was/is frustrated and I think he wants to do better. Hopefully, he does and it occurs with the Nationals.

        Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt for now and see how things play out.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jan 26, 2014 at 8:56 AM

      Maybe “the plan” for this spring is to try to get Espinosa back in at second, move Rendon to third, move Zimm to first more than we think. I don’t see it working out, as I like a more set infield and I still think Zimm belongs at 3rd, but I also think that you must establish Espinosa’s place on this club once and for all. Like it or not, he is the backup 2nd baseman and shortstop. If he takes it as a personal challenge to beat out Anthony Rendon and he succeeds then the Nats have a top tier team problem in that they have too much talent. Gee, wouldn’t that be too bad?

      Coach, just try to ignore his pettifogging dribble. It ain’t worth getting your panties wadded up over.

      • sjm308 - Jan 26, 2014 at 9:09 AM

        Yeah, I lost it a little yesterday but like Bryce Harper said in an interview yesterday, you just have to erase stuff and come back strong. Onward and upward and if I upset anyone with my ranting about someone else, I apologize.

        Go Nats!! Go Danny! (which again is kinda silly because I just want to see him as our backup)

  4. ArVAFan - Jan 26, 2014 at 8:34 AM

    Any Nats Fest comparison comments from those folks who have been to more than one? How did the Gaylord compare with the convention center (other than accessibility)? There seemed to be plenty of Nats and Gaylord employees around to help. There were healthy and unhealthy food and beverage options.

  5. sjm308 - Jan 26, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    I think after hearing all those great interviews on 106.7, I might just go next year. It honestly lifted my spirits on a cold day.

    • ArVAfan - Jan 26, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      Test post from phone

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