Tuesday, September 28, 2010, 6:45 p.m.
By Mark Zuckerman
The first stage of Stephen Strasburg's recovery from Tommy John surgery has been, in the words of the Washington Nationals right-hander, incredibly boring. That's exactly how he and his doctors want it to be.
"What they're telling me is that the more boring it is, the better," Strasburg said Tuesday in his first comments since undergoing the elbow ligament replacement surgery on September 3.
Speaking to reporters on a conference call from his home in San Diego, Strasburg revealed he had the cast removed from his right arm about two weeks ago and is now getting his range of motion back. For now, his workout regimen is limited to strengthening his core and legs, nothing involving his throwing arm. He's expected to begin throwing four months after the surgery, which would fall in early January.
A meticulous worker who likes to map out a plan for everything he does, Strasburg said the process has gone exactly as expected so far.
"I haven't been surprised by anything," he said. "It's healing very nicely."
The initial shock Strasburg felt when he was told in late August he would need the surgery and wouldn't be back pitching in the majors for 12-to-18 months wore off quickly. The hardest thing, he said, was waiting around for a week to have the procedure, which was performed in Los Angeles by noted orthopedist Lewis Yocum.
"Once it was over with, it was definitely a sense of relief," he said. "I knew that everything was fixed, and every single day I was getting closer to getting back out there."
Strasburg, who went 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 12 starts for the Nationals before tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow during an August 21 start in Philadelphia, said he's been watching many games from home and caught Monday night's game in which the Phillies clinched the NL East title with thousands of their fans in attendance at Nationals Park.
That didn't sit too well with the 22-year-old hurler.
"It didn't look too good, that's for sure," he said. "It stung the way it happened. ... But we could very well be doing that in the next few years on their home turf. It would be nice to have some payback."
Nationals coaches and teammates haven't had much contact with Strasburg; he tends to return messages during games, probably on purpose so he doesn't have to talk to them. But team doctors are in constant contact and update others in the organization on his progress.
"I get reports on how he's doing, and I'm very encouraged by what those reports are," manager Jim Riggleman said. "I know he's working hard. There's a timeframe that we'll see him, and we'll see him in spring training. It's going to be a while, but we'll get him back out there."