Strasburg rehabbing in D.C. after latest setback

February 15th, 2023

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Stephen Strasburg suffered a setback in his return to the mound, and there is no timetable for the 34-year-old right-hander to report to Nationals Spring Training.

Strasburg had been recovering from a stress reaction in his second and third ribs that is related to his thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) surgery. He built up this offseason to throwing bullpens, and he felt good after his first session. After recently throwing a second session, however, he experienced a nerve issue that sidelined him again.

“The next day, he just didn’t rebound as he thought he would,” manager Dave Martinez said Wednesday following the first pitchers and catchers workout.

As the Nationals reported to West Palm Beach, Fla., Strasburg remained in Washington to seek further medical attention and rehab. Whether he joins the team during camp remains to be determined.

“I know how hard he’s worked,” Martinez said. “I tell him, ‘You put every effort to come to Spring Training, and I know that and I know how hard you work. You’ve just got to, hopefully, stick to the process and go get checked out and see what’s going on.’ That’s all he can do right now.”

This is the latest obstacle for the 2019 World Series MVP, who has been limited to just 31 1/3 innings over the past three seasons. Strasburg was sidelined by season-ending carpal tunnel surgery on his right hand in 2020. He made five starts in ‘21 before undergoing thoracic outlet surgery that July.

After more than a year between outings, Strasburg returned to the mound for one start last June, only to be sidelined by TOS complications. He had been rehabbing six days a week during this offseason.

“He’s put the time in, that’s for sure,” Martinez said. “I know in his heart he wants to pitch, and I can’t wait until the day that if he does pitch, that he’s going to come back and pitch for us. I know the fans want to see him pitch again. But, at this point, it’s just health-related and it’s the same thing -- it’s the nerve that’s bothered him. I know he’s going to get checked out by some doctors again, so we’ll see. But for right now, he’s not going to be with us.”

The first overall pick by the Nationals in the 2009 Draft, Strasburg is 113-62 in 247 starts across 13 seasons. He went a historic 5-0 in the ‘19 postseason to be a driving force in the Nats’ first World Series championship. That winter, he signed a then-record-setting, seven-year contract worth $245 million.

“For right now, it’s about Stephen and trying to make sure that he’s able to come back if he can,” Martinez said. “It’s tough. That guy’s endured a lot.”

Without Strasburg healthy, Washington could construct its starting rotation with Patrick Corbin, Josiah Gray, Trevor Williams, Cade Cavalli and MacKenzie Gore. Pitching depth is a priority for the Nationals, and they will explore their options to fill innings during camp.