WASHINGTON — He isn’t out of the woods yet, but Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg is already breathing a sigh of relief after arm troubles knocked him out of his first start back from injury.
The injury was initially diagnosed as a flexor mass strain–an injury that has been a precursor for some pitchers that eventually need Tommy John’s surgery to replace a damaged UCL.
But Strasburg, speaking to the media on Saturday for the first time since the injury, classified the diagnosis as “about as good as it could get.”
There is no ligament damage and he was injection with platelet rich plasma (PRP) to aid the healing process. He has already sought a second opinion on the MRI, at which point the team will have a better plan of action going forward.
“I’m having another doctor look at the MRI results,” Strasburg said. “If he feels like he wants to take a look at me, I’ll figure it out then.”
His timetable for return is still anyone’s guess.
“I can’t make that claim,” Strasburg responded on his availability for the postseason. “There’s still pretty much a month left in the season and I’m just trying to get back healthy and hopefully when we’re still playing baseball.”
Strasburg has already missed five starts this season, dealing with injuries unrelated to his surgically repaired elbow. After throwing a number of successful bullpen sessions, he was ready for his first start on Wednesday night, pitching effectively until the third inning, when he felt unusually fatigued.
“It was a little alarming to me. I think it seemed when I went out there for the third, it felt more like the seventh or eighth inning, which is kind of odd,” Strasburg told the media. “I just tried to get it out and then kind of felt something on a pitch and it didn’t really go away.
“It kind of just stayed there and I knew it probably wouldn’t have been a good idea to try to keep trying to throw through it.”
The Nats training staff said after the fact that Strasburg suffered the new injury on Wednesday, and it was not something that was a product of overuse.
For what it’s worth, that doesn’t offer Strasburg much peace of mind.
“You guys can speculate all you want. It happened. I know I put in all the work,” Strasburg told the media flatly. “I worked as hard as I possibly can every single day trying to get better and trying to improve my game to help this team, and it’s unfortunate that it kind of ended up the way it did.
“But I’m just trying to stay positive, and, hopefully, be on top of my game come October.”