Friday, August 27, 2010

Strasburg's reaction

For the full, updated Stephen Strasburg story with quotes, go to

Stephen Strasburg spoke for about 10 minutes this afternoon in the Nationals Park interview room and conveyed how the anger and confusion he initially felt upon learning he would need Tommy John surgery quickly transformed into acceptance of the injury and determination to overcome this new challenge.

Strasburg spoke about the surgery as though it is a sure thing, even though he will fly to Los Angeles tomorrow to get a second opinion from orthopedist Lewis Yocum. He tried to put his entire "whirlwind" rookie season into perspective and talked about the support system he has around him that he believes will help him get through the various stages of recovery he now faces.

Here's a transcript of some of the best stuff Strasburg had to say. I'll be re-posting this after each answer, so check back because this will be updating every few minutes...

Q: What was your reaction when you learned?
STEPHEN STRASBURG: It was kind of a shock to me, because I didn't really feel anything. It is what it is. In a way, it's good that it happened now instead of when we're going to the postseason or getting ready for the World Series. It's a new challenge. I want to be the best at everything. And right now, I'm going to be the best at rehabbing and getting back out here.

Q: Can you gain inspiration from Jordan Zimmermann and others who have come back from this surgery?
SS: Absolutely. You look at all the guys in the big leagues who are Cy Young contenders, Hall of Famers who have had this surgery ... it's become such a specialty these days. I'm going to the best, and I know deep down inside I'm going to work just as hard as any of these guys who had to go through it before. I hope to be back here soon.

Q: What did you feel on that last pitch in Philadelphia?
SS: It felt more like a flexor strain than anything. It felt like my forearm cramped up. That was about it. After that as far as the stress test and everything, I didn't feel any pain. That was the thing that kind of threw it off. But I think that was just from being strong and flexible to begin with. Who knows when it happened? Bottom line, it is what it is, and I've just got to move forward.

Q: How will mentally tackle not being able to pitch for so long?
SS: It's a new challenge. It's going to be a big learning experience. I feel like I'm going to be able to grow a lot, as an individual and as a baseball player. Looking at the bright side, it's going to give me six months to really not worry about throwing and really get strong in my lower half, my core, my shoulder, everything. So when it is time for me to step on the rubber, it's hopefully going to be totally a new ballgame for me and I'll be ready to tackle a full season.

Q: How similar was what you felt Saturday on that pitch to what you felt in college?
SS: That's the weird thing. What happened the other night was something that I felt before. And nothing was torn then. I don't know what the doctors think, but I think it might have been something that happened more over time. It just never really popped up until we decided to go in the MRI machine for the flexor muscle. It happens. It happens to a lot of pitchers out there. It's a pretty common thing. I've just got to roll with it and get better.

Q: Do you find yourself looking for an explanation as to what went wrong, or do you chalk it up to something that just happens to pitchers?
SS: If I keep looking for an explanation, it's just going to eat at me. I've got to let it go. I've just got to move on. That's what I'm doing. Everything happens for a reason. This is obviously a test for me. I've never had any shoulder or elbow surgery in my entire life. So it's going to be a new experience. I'm just going to embrace it.

Q: Is there anything about your changeup, the way you hold or throw it, that might have caused this?
SS: You can dig into that all you want. You're looking at two changeups out of the hundreds of thousands of changeups that I've thrown, whether it's out in the outfield, in the bullpen, during a game. It could have been any pitch.

Q: Now that it's over, what has this year been like?
SS: Definitely a whirlwind. It kind of sucks to have it end like this, but I got a lot of great experience when I was up here. The weird thing about it is, that last game, that was when everything started to click. That was when I had that feeling. I mean, that was a packed house with some rowdy fans, and I didn't feel like they were there. I was just so locked in and everything was working. And sure enough, something happens. ... Tomorrow, I'm just going to write down on a piece of paper everything that I'm thinking right now and look at it a year from now and keep going from there.

Q: Did it take you some time to get from your initial reaction to your current state of mind?
SS: It didn't take a matter of minutes. It took definitely a few hours. I've got great support all around me. They reminded me of everything I should be thankful for. They put everything in perspective for me. The bottom line is, this is a game. I'm very blessed to play this game for a living. This is a minor setback, but in the grand scheme of things, it's just a blip on the radar screen.

Q: What was your initial reaction: Anger? Confusion?
SS: A little bit of both.

Q: The next day, you felt good, right?
SS: That's the thing. After we got the MRI results, I came to the field thinking they were going to let me play catch. I didn't really think there was anything wrong. It just happened. I can't really explain it. I'm not going to try to explain it anymore.

Q: The things you're going to write down on paper tomorrow, what is that for?
SS: So I don't forget all the things I'm thinking about right now. My mind might get a little jumbled through this experience. I don't know what to expect. I just have to remember all the things I want to focus on. So next time I go out there and pitch, I can keep going like I was this year.


Tcostant said...

I think Nats fans need a wakeup call; I recommend that all read the following article for it.

Here is the first paragraph and the link.

There is something terribly sad about this latest Stephen Strasburg news. It's not just sadness for Strasburg, who apparently needs Tommy John surgery -- he is a wealthy and (mostly) healthy young American male who should be fine, no matter what happens. And it's not just sadness for the Washington Nationals, who lost the one guy who has made them relevant.

Read more:

NatsJack in Florida said...

OK.. I read the SI piece and the only thing different is he added Joel Zumaya to the Prior/Wood scenario.

I prefer the Josh Johnson, Tim Hudson, Billy Wagner, etc. scenario.

Stephens mind set is perfect to comeback as strong or stronger and he has the ability to confer with Jordan Zimmermann about the process.

He's absolutely correct in that the timing of this is in all of our best interests. He'll be back when Bryce is coming up, Ramos will have a full season behind him and our other young pitchers will be in the mix. 2012 is lining up as a greatly anticipated season for those of us who really (and patiently) approve of the Rizzo approach to building this club.

NG said...

Joel Zumaya severly injured his shoulder loading boxes trying to evacuate his house in advance of an approaching forest fire. This just isn't in any way comparable to Strasburg.

Doc said...

Really fine interview Mark. I'm with Stephen that this happened over time, not with one pitch. As Rizzo quotes the doctors, it was that last pitch. Maybe it's time to change doctors!

SS is going to come out of this fine. Just a tremendous mental attitude on his part. His focus is on achievement is quite exceptional. He's really a rare individual.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the kid can come through ok, my only worry was until 3 years ago he was known for his lack of work ethic concerning conditioning and he showed signs of being out of shape during warm weather this year. I hope he keeps up with his fitness while recovering from the surgery and comes back a bit leaner.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Doc.... it was the last pitch that "signaled" the injury.... not necessarily causing it.

If in fact (and what I believe) that this happened over time, it was inevitable that "one pitch" would trigger the pain that caused the MRI that leads to the surgery.

Jim Hoy said...

Mark, you posted the Strasburg info at least 15 minutes before did. That, my friend, is good reporting. Thank you for that.

As for Stras, I can only hope for the best. He certainly said all the right things.

This is a good reason why Kasten and Rizzo continue to stockpile pitchers. I had hoped we wouldn't be flirting with 100 losses this year, but I know Rizzo is on the right path.

Spike94wl said...

So are we absolutely certain that Strasburg's contract runs while he is on the DL? If so this is a huge loss not just because of 2011 but we're losing a full year or more of his service to the Nats.

bobn said...

MRIs should be done before injury to see if there is weakness or strain. It is expensive, but might save the arms of young pitchers.

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