I knew this guy was going to be a bust. Just joking, I feel bad for the kid.
Stephen Strasburg likely to have 'Tommy John' surgery, may miss 2011 season
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo announced this morning that pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg will probably require "Tommy John" elbow ligament replacement surgery.
Strasburg left his last start on Saturday with what was was initially diagnosed as a strained tendon in his forearm. But on Thursday he had a second MRI exam that showed a "significant tear of his ulnar collateral ligament," according to Rizzo.
Rizzo said Strasburg will seek a second opinion from Lewis Yocum. If Yocum agrees that surgery is necessary, Strasburg would have the procedure as soon as possible. The recovery time from "Tommy John" surgery for a pitcher is typically at least 12 months, meaning Strasburg would likely miss all of the 2011 season.
"He turned from being upset to being really focused and ready to take on this new thing on his life," Rizzo said of Strasburg, who was not in attendance at the news conference at Nationals Park. "We've had successful ones in the past, and we feel this is going to be no different. Stephen is going to be a dedicated, focused individual."
Strasburg was the first overall pick in the 2009 draft and signed a record $15.1 million contract with the Nationals. He made his pro debut this season, pitching at Class AA and AAA before being promoted to the major leagues in June. He struck out 14 in seven innings vs. the Pirates to earn a victory in his first start, dazzling baseball and creating excitement around a struggling Nationals franchise.
He continued to pitch well, with the team monitoring his workload and keeping him to less than 100 pitches in every start. He missed a start in July when he felt tightness in his shoulder warming up and was placed on the disabled list. He came back to make three starts and finishes the season 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings.
"It's frustrating, because this happens to people you think it shouldn't happen to," Rizzo said. "This player was developed and cared for the correct way. Things like this happen. Pitchers break down. Pitchers get hurt. We're satisfied with the way he was developed. I know (Strasburg's agent) Scott Boras was satisfied with the way he's been treated, and Stephen is also. We're good with that. Frustrated, yes. Second-guessing ourselves, no."
The Nationals lost another top pitching prospect, Jordan Zimmermann, a year ago to "Tommy John" surgery. Zimmermann returned to action on Thursday and allowed five runs in four innings.
"It's a tough day for (Strasburg) and for all of us, for everyone who's a Nats fan," Nationals president Stan Kasten said. "But we saw Jordan (Zimmermann) come back last night. A year from today, Stephen will be joining him."
By Peter Barzilai