WASHINGTON — Stephen Strasburg was back in the Nationals’ clubhouse this week, rejoining his teammates in D.C. after spending the first six weeks of the season rehabbing from his thoracic outlet syndrome surgery at the club’s spring training complex in Florida.
He cleared a significant hurdle toward rejoining the team’s rotation Tuesday, throwing 61 pitches over four innings with Single-A Fredericksburg in his first rehab appearance since undergoing the procedure in July. The three-time All-Star and 2019 World Series MVP sat around 93-94 mph with his fastball and had good movement on his offspeed pitches.
“The big difference with this rehab is I haven’t really gotten sore, it’s been more of fatigue and affects the shoulder stability of it,” Strasburg said. “I have normal soreness today, which is good. I feel like it’s once I get to that point where I’m sore out of an outing, that usually seems to build better after that. So it’s just been a long time coming…it’s slow but it’s getting better.”
Strasburg, 33, has made just seven starts since the start of the 2020 season. He ended each of the last two campaigns on the Injured List having been forced to undergo surgery, the first of which addressed carpal tunnel neuritis of his throwing hand. The former Tommy John recipient has worked his way back from a plethora of injuries, but this rehab process has been different.
“It’s definitely a little bit more of a challenge when you get older,” Strasburg said. “I think it’s more not so much an age thing but more of all the surgeries that I’ve already had. So it’s learning to work with what you got at this point.
“It’s not down to a science like Tommy John. But all I can do is give it everything I have and let the chips fall as they may. So it feels good today, I’m gonna go out there and play catch and keep trying to move forward.”
While Strasburg was pitching in Fredericksburg, fellow right-hander Joe Ross was also making his first rehab appearance of the year with Double-A Harrisburg. However, the outing ended on a sour note as Ross was pulled after just three innings and 31 pitches with tightness in his throwing elbow. After suffering a partially torn UCL last summer and undergoing surgery to remove a bone spur just before spring training, Ross now has another setback.
“He finished three innings and couldn’t go out for the fourth so he’s getting an MRI,” manager Davey Martinez said in his pregame press conference Wednesday. “We don’t have any results yet. We’ll hopefully have some by this afternoon…It’s concerning because it’s his elbow again but I don’t want to jump to any conclusions until we get the MRI back.”
The Nationals also sent infielder Ehire Adrianza to Harrisburg, where he led off Tuesday and went 3-3 with a double, walk and run scored. Triple-A shortstop Luis García, who sports a .963 OPS with eight home runs in 168 plate appearances for Rochester, left his game Tuesday with a wrist injury after a collision at first base.