Stras­burg has flexor strain, ‘not a sea­son-end­ing in­jury’

Pitcher’s lig­a­ment in­tact, but timetable for re­turn un­clear

Baltimore Sun - - BASEBALL - By Chelsea Janes

WASHINGTON — Stephen Stras­burg’s ul­nar col­lat­eral lig­a­ment is in­tact. The Washington Na­tion­als pitcher does not need an­other Tommy John surgery. His sea­son might not be over yet, though it might be, be­cause Stras­burg — who left Wed­nes­day night’s game in the third in­ning af­ter feel­ing a “pinch in the back of his el­bow,” ac­cord­ing to his man­ager — does have a strain of the flexor mass in his right el­bow, and his timetable for a re­turn is un­clear.

Na­tion­als man­ager Dusty Baker said he “did a lot of pray­ing” Wed­nes­day night that the in­jury was not as bad as it could have been. On Thurs­day, he agreed it was ac­cu­rate to call this news the best-case sce­nario. When pitch­ers have el­bow pain, some­thing is wrong. If some­thing is wrong, bet­ter a flexor mass strain than some­thing worse — though the Na­tion­als will fol­low team pro­to­col and send Stras­burg to or­tho­pe­dic sur­geon Dr. Neal ElAt­tra­che of the Yocum group for a sec­ond opin­ion, ac­cord­ing to a per­son with di­rect knowl­edge of the sit­u­a­tion.

“Ev­ery­body’s pretty sat­is­fied of where we are at this point, and it’s very good to know,” Baker said. “Ex­actly the timetable we don’t know, but it’s good to hear that it wasn’t what ev­ery­body was spec­u­lat­ing that it was.”

Trainer Paul Les­sard de­liv­ered the news to re­porters around 4 p.m. Thurs­day.“I know ev­ery­one was con­cerned that he rein­jured that Tommy John lig­a­ment, and the an­swer is no,” Les­sard said. “The lig­a­ment is good.”

Stras­burg had been deal­ing with right el­bow dis­com­fort for the past three weeks, enough of it that the Na­tion­als placed him on the dis­abled list. Forty-two pitches into his first game back, he was walk­ing off the mound with more dis­com­fort, though Les­sard said this pain was dif­fer­ent than the swelling in the “pos­te­rior” of the el­bow that caused that DL stint.

Stras­burg did not un­dergo an MRI for that Au­gust dis­com­fort be­cause the Na­tion­als did not see any signs of lin­ger­ing trou­ble in his de­liv­ery or ve­loc­ity. He had an MRI be­fore he signed his seven-year, $175 mil­lion ex­ten­sion in May, and Les­sard did not see any ma­jor dif­fer­ences be­tween Thurs­day’s MRI and that one.

Im­por­tantly, Les­sard also iden­ti­fied the in­jury as “an acute in­jury, ver­sus an overuse in­jury.” In other words, the of­fi­cial word from the Na­tion­als is that Stras­burg suf­fered this par­tic­u­lar in­jury on that pitch to Mike Foltynewicz on Wed­nes­day.

Les­sard said the next four or five days would be cru­cial as the time frame in which he and his staff would hope to re­duce in­flam­ma­tion and help Stras­burg re­gain “pain-free range of mo­tion.” But Les­sard would not project much from there.

“Nor­mally, [these in­juries] come around very well with treat­ment and strength­en­ing,” he said. “It’s not a sea­son-end­ing in­jury, but we still need to take time that he’s nice and strong be­cause of his past.”

JOHN MCDON­NELL/THE WASHINGTON POST

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