As we reported a couple of days ago, Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg made his first rehabilitation start for the Low-A Hagerstown Suns as they took on the Greensboro Grasshoppers Sunday afternoon. Strasburg was limited to 31 pitches in this outing, 25 of which he threw for strikes. MLB.com reported that he hit a high of 98 mph and the Washington Post reports that he hit 97 mph “consistently” during his 1 and 2/3 innings. Strasburg gave up a solo home run on 3 hits, while walking none and striking out 4.
“My goal is to pitch in the big leagues in September,” Strasburg told reporters. “It’s a lot longer process than many people think. “Patience, that’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life,” Strasburg said. “I want things to just happen. I’ve been waiting 11 months — there’s not much more to go.”
Patience is something Strasburg’s fantasy owners have had to endure all season long. Some cashed in their chips for players to get them into their league’s playoffs, while others have ridden it out, hoping for just this – a chance to have an elite arm throwing for them in September.
His goal is to indeed return to the Nationals in September, a realistic goal barring a setback. Even then, he feels his speed and control won’t be where he wants them to be.
“Come spring training next year, that’s where I think I should be back to normal,” he said.
The 23-year-old right-hander hadn’t faced a batter in a live game situation since grabbing his right wrist following a pitch to Domonic Brown of the Philadelphia Phillies on Aug. 21, 2010. Strasburg had ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) surgery Sept. 3, ending his rookie season with a 5-3 record and a 2.91 ERA in 12 starts, including an unforgettable debut in which he struck out 14 Pittsburgh Pirates.
Looking on as Strasburg pitched Sunday, most people would of thought he looked the same as he did in 2010. While rehabilitating his elbow, Strasburg spent most of the past year strengthening his “core” muscles, he said both his body and his mechanics were better.
“Before, I just wasn’t in as good shape,” he said following the Suns’ 7-5 loss. “I think the biggest reason I broke down was I got tired. I wasn’t necessarily prepared for a full season.”
He will start again in five days, site yet to be determined and it will most likely be with the Potomac Nationals in Woodbridge or with the Harrisburg Senators. He will keep pitching every 5 days after that to get back into the internalized rhythms of a starting pitcher’s life, provided the elbow keeps progressing. Sometime in early September, hopefully, him and his $15 million arm will take center stage in the biggest show known to man; The major league diamond.