Matt Williams talks baseball's offseason with Brian Mitchell
Three months after having surgery to remove loose bodies from his right elbow, Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg is fully past the rehab process and feeling great. At this point, just weeks before pitchers and catchers report, he’s moving through the final days of winter as if the procedure never even happened.
“It’s not considered rehab anymore,” he said. “I feel great. I’m on a normal schedule. I’m throwing, lifting, running, the whole shebang. Just getting ready for spring training, I’ve got no problems.”
Strasburg had the surgery shortly after the 2013 season ended, and despite feeling tightness in his elbow towards the end of the year, does not believe it affected his performance in games. Strasburg says it was more on days after starts that his arm would act up.
“There wasn’t really a game out there where I feel like it affected my pitching,” he said.
“The way loose bodies work is that when you get hot and you get the blood flowing, your arm straightens out and you feel normal. But it was really the day after, trying to play catch, and trying to throw bullpen and stuff when it became difficult. Trying to get my arm and elbow back and flexible because of the loose bodies in there.”
The discomfort got so bad he had trouble straightening his arm all the way out on days after starts. As it worsened he realized he needed it examined by the training staff.
Strasburg would feel better as he got further removed from starts and continued pitching every fifth day.
“At the time I wanted to go out there and compete. I feel like it was something I was able to do, go out there and pitch at a high level. I’m excited for how it feels now because at the time I didn’t really know what it was,” he said.
Strasburg will report to spring training in Viera, Fla. on Feb. 13, the date Nationals pitchers and catchers are expected to arrive. As of now he does not expect to be limited in his participation, whether it be fielding drills at first or in games once the Grapefruit League schedule begins.
“Everything that I hear and everything that I’m expecting is that it’s normal. I feel great doing my normal offseason routine and I don’t feel like there’s any reason why I should be held back if I’m feeling good come spring training.”
Strasburg met new manager Matt Williams for the first time at NatsFest on Saturday and says he is excited to play for him. He referred to the former All-Star as “intense.”
“I think that’s going to be good for this club,” Strasburg said.
Strasburg is also thrilled to have pitching coach Steve McCatty back after the change at manager. It gives the Nats’ rotation some continuity and brings back a mentor they very much respect.
“It’s awesome. I love having Cat there in my corner. I think a lot of the other guys in the rotation would say the same. He’s a guy that you can trust. If you go out there and get shelled or you go out there and pitch well, he’s not going to treat you any different.”
Strasburg, 25, is entering his fifth season in the majors with specific areas of his game he hopes to improve. Pitching 200 innings is a milestone he still hopes to achieve, but there are also little things he plans to work on this spring.
“Definitely work on my pickoff move, work on timing out of the stretch, work on commanding fastballs on both sides of the plate, sinkers on both sides of the plate,” he said.
“I just try and take that next evolution, try to get more complete.”