MIAMI -- Stephen Strasburg rejoined the Nationals in Miami on Saturday, encouraged by how well he felt just two days after he received a scalene block injection to help relieve the pain caused by the pinched nerve in his neck. After receiving the treatment on Thursday, Strasburg noticed the difference
MIAMI -- Stephen Strasburg rejoined the Nationals in Miami on Saturday, encouraged by how well he felt just two days after he received a scalene block injection to help relieve the pain caused by the pinched nerve in his neck. After receiving the treatment on Thursday, Strasburg noticed the difference in how much better he felt the next morning.
It left Strasburg excited to resume throwing as soon as Sunday, once the doctor-recommended 72-hour waiting period following the shot is over. There's a chance of a short stint on the disabled list.
"It's very encouraging," Strasburg said. "I think they've kind of crossed all the boxes now, and it seems like it's something that should be good to go, and I'm excited to get back out there with the guys. I want nothing more than to be there in the end and hopefully to be pitching in the playoffs."
Strasburg sat in the visitor's dugout and provided an explanation on the origins of the neck injury, which he revealed he has been battling since Spring Training before it finally forced him to the DL on Wednesday (retroactive to July 22). He does not believe it was connected to the neck injury that caused him to miss time in 2015, but rather began from an issue with his mechanics.
While the discomfort in his neck was always tolerable, Strasburg theorized it helped cause the right shoulder inflammation that forced him to miss a month. He was activated from the DL to start on July 20 against the Braves, but the pain in his neck did not go away in the days following.
Still, Strasburg played catch and threw a bullpen session in an attempt to make his next start, but his neck did not respond. He was placed on the DL and flew to Los Angeles to meet with Dr. Neal ElAttrache for an electromyography test on his nerves. He received a scalene block injection in his neck and felt the difference nearly right away.
And Strasburg is encouraged it will help put his neck issues behind him for the remainder of the season.
"The way I look at it is I think you're trying to put together a puzzle blindfolded, so you want to treat the symptoms and you try to figure out exactly what's causing that," Strasburg said. "I did a lot of strength training to get my shoulder strength back over the six weeks, and then once I started to ramp up and get going further, the symptoms started to increase again. The question was why?
"I think going out to L.A. and getting a little bit more testing done kind of revealed there was a nerve impingement that was causing all these things to kind of compound, so now that that's addressed, I'm feeling pretty confident that I'll be good to go soon."
The question is how soon could Strasburg return to the mound for the Nationals. He could resume throwing as soon as Sunday, and he should not have to build his stamina drastically because he has missed so little time. Tommy Milone will start for Washington in the next turn through the rotation, but perhaps if all goes well, Strasburg's return could come sometime shortly thereafter.
"I don't really know. I'm hoping sooner rather than later because it does feel really good," Strasburg said. "I think this is the benefit of this. I think everything's been crossed. All the boxes have been checked. It's something that -- the nerve itself is going to take a little time to heal, but they've at least addressed the pain and symptoms I was getting, so I think they really confirmed with me that this is something that will carry me through the rest of the year and into the offseason.
"I'm just really pleased with the way [I feel], and I'm excited for the opportunity to get back out there soon."
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.