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So, how bad is the Strasburg injury?

When I started on the Baltimore Orioles beat at The Post in 1999, the Baltimore Sun beat writer -- my competition -- was a veteran scribe named Joe Strauss, who remains one of the best beat guys in the business. He taught me many valuable lessons, most of which involved me picking up The Sun to find he had whupped my rookie tail on another news story, but the best of which was this: You can never over-write an injury to a star player.

I thought about Strauss and that lesson when I got word of Stephen Strasburg's knee injury Thursday night, as I was in the middle of reading "Fancy Nancy: Explorer Extraordinaire!" to my 3-year-old daughter. (Reminder to self: Leave Blackberry in other room when putting kids down for nighty-night.) Strasburg may not be a "star" yet, in the traditional sense, but in terms of value to the organization, I'd say he ranks only behind Ryan Zimmerman. And even though a knee injury, even if it involved a torn ligament, is nowhere near as serious as an elbow or shoulder to a pitcher, major knee surgery could require many weeks or even months to rehabilitate, which, of course, would call into question Strasburg's readiness for spring training.

So I gave the story the full star treatment as I turned Fancy Nancy (and my daughter) over to my wife and started dialing numbers frantically.

What few details I could scrounge together certainly sounded bad -- Strasburg heard a "pop" and crumpled to the ground when it happened -- and the fact the team had apparently put a gag order on everyone in both Arizona and Washington raised more suspicions.

The team, of course, eventually put out a statement regarding the injury, saying it was not considered serious and that an MRI showed only inflammation. But the team was concerned enough to set up a more complete examination of the knee on Friday, with one additional twist coming later in the evening: At first, Strasburg was scheduled to travel to Washington to see the Nationals' team physician, then the statement was revised to say he was traveling instead (because of the proximity) to Los Angeles to see noted orthopedist Lewis Yocum.

Hopefully, we hear only good news today out of Strasburg's examination by Dr. Yocum. But until then, I'm going with the Strauss Rule and treating this like a major situation.

*On a related note, here is a story I missed Thursday out of Syracuse, in which the Chiefs, the Nationals' Class AAA affiliate, reportedly lost about $45,000 in 2009 but are hoping Strasburg's potential arrival in 2010 will boost attendance and revenues. Interestingly, Chiefs GM John Simone puts the chances of Strasburg starting the season there at "50-50."

By Dave Sheinin  |  November 20, 2009; 10:00 AM ET
 
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Next: Lett, Radison join Nationals' coaching staff

Comments

SS: Born to be a Nat. He's day-to-day. Will be ready for spring training, but they're not saying what year.
See Young, Dmitri, $5 million flushed down the rat hole.
Boz was right. We should've passed on this prima donna.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | November 20, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Yikes. If this was a player on any other team, I would be more optimistic for his prognosis.

Posted by: JennX_ | November 20, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Dave - Speaking for myself, you can't overreport this story. I already had my Tivo set for Saturday's game and couldn't wait to see it. So far, I can only think the worst of the situation. What did Kornheiser used to say... "it's the curse of Les Boullez (sp?) coming on..." And for your daughter, if you haven't found Mo Willems yet, he's the best new kids author out there - for making 'em laugh and then helping them read when they're ready. Buy "Knuffle Bunny" if you don't have it already to get started - your daughter will love it.

Posted by: natslifer | November 20, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

@Natslifer -- I completely agree. "Knuffle Bunny" is an instant classic. And "Knuffle Bunny Too" is right up there as well. All of Mo Willems' books have been at the top of my daughter's nightly reading for the past two years (she's 4 now).

Posted by: erocks33 | November 20, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Still going to keep the recording set on the DVR to (hopefully) get a look at Storen, Espinosa and Mandel

Posted by: Kev29 | November 20, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

SS: Born to be a Nat. He's day-to-day. Will be ready for spring training, but they're not saying what year.
See Young, Dmitri, $5 million flushed down the rat hole.
Boz was right. We should've passed on this prima donna.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me |
________________________

Other than a record bonus what exactly has Strasburg done to indicate he was a prima donna? Get injured? I hope you're not a health care professional. From everything posted online and in print he's a smart, hard working kid with exceptional skills who doesn't take them for granted, seeking out advice from others, for example, when he got shelled that one outing. Not very prima donnish in my view.

Posted by: mojo6 | November 20, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Dave.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | November 20, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I was under the impression that Dr Yocum the LA Dodgers team doctor and a knee specialist? Anyone know for sure on that?

If the next News Flash changes from Dr Yocum to Dr Andrews then its "Washington we have a problem".

I know that SS is only 21 and probably wouldn't see the bigs until the Nats are nestled quitely at the bottom of the NL East in 09 but....., with all of the hype and all of the hope this news just makes it tough to think anything else.

JPAT, SHILL, ZIMM2, MCHICO, its the pipeline to Dr Andrews office.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | November 20, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Dave. IMO, you have not blown things out of proportion.

I'm going to be watching tv for the other Baby Nats, too.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 20, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Boz was right. We should've passed on this prima donna.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | November 20, 2009 10:20 AM

************

Seriously? Prima Donna? Wow.

And where did you read that Boz suggested we pass on him? Never. Boz said don't pay too much and he probably won't be a hall of famer. Never said pass on him.

Posted by: NatsNut | November 20, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I agree with mojo, that SS has done nothing to suggest he's a prima dona... yet.

In fact, all early indications suggest just the opposite.

Posted by: sec307 | November 20, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

... from the original Strasburg/injury story, comes this partially hidden gem: "According to two sources who were briefed on the injury, Strasburg, a 21-year-old right-hander, stepped awkwardly ..."

... did these unnamed sources not get Mike R's memo about silence,. or did they think it meant everyone else but them?

Posted by: natscanreduxit | November 20, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Just read on MLB.com that SS has a torn ACL and MCL and will be out for 12 - 16 months. Surgery is scheduled to take place once the swelling is gone. They did mention that it was a major tear and could, in worst case scenario be career threatening.

Posted by: LoJankFilDee19338333 | November 20, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Well that's beautiful. Just *&#$%! beautiful.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 20, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

hmmm, I smell a troll. I found nothing to that effect on the team site, either the Ladson or the NatsTown blog, the AFL site, the Chatter blog, or MASN.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 20, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

An MRI of a sprained ankle would show inflammation. An MRI of a twisted knee would show inflammation. An MRI of a serious knee injury (ACL, meniscus, etc) would show a serious knee injury. Hello, that's how they diagnose serious knee injuries - with an MRI. So why are they sending Strasburg to see a doctor to get another set of eyes on the MRI? Because they're paying $15M for him. It's called due diligence. Why the shift from having the DC doctor see Strasburg to having Yocum in LA see him? One of two reasons. (a) Boras demanded it, since Strasburg is his asset too, he thinks Yocum is better than the Nats guy (which is probably true, but doesn't matter here), and hey the Nats are paying for it, not Boras. OR (b) Strasburg's next stop after this pro-forma doctor appt is to head home to San Diego for the winter. Why make him fly cross-country and back for a pro-forma appointment?

Keep in mind that it's Rizzo making these announcements now, not Bowden. Throw away your conspiracy theories. Also, remember that while you and I are not doctors (we only play them on the web), neither are Sheinin or any of these other reporters. Sheinin's three year old daughter can probably give a more informed analysis of this situation than he can.

Posted by: section309 | November 20, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I smell a troll too - I can't find anything that says that on MLB.com or anywhere else. You got a link, LoJank?

Posted by: misschatter | November 20, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I would just like to add a Troll Alert myself. MLB just has the original 8:00 pm, 11/19 story on. Sec 309 is indirectly counseling patience as am I. I will still DVR tomorrow,s game in order to see (I hope) Espinosa and Marrero.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | November 20, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

"I know that SS is only 21 and probably wouldn't see the bigs until the Nats are nestled quitely at the bottom of the NL East in 09..."
Posted by: TippyCanoe
||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||
Any way I can get a bet down that the Nats will finish at the bottom of the NL East in 09? I'll give l-o-n-g odds to anyone willing to bet me that they won't.

Posted by: gilbertbp | November 20, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

gilbert, I'll bite. How's 10 bucks sound?

=)

Posted by: NatsNut | November 20, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

can anyone say "Mark Fidrych"?

Posted by: twinbrook | November 20, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

My wife had a pop-then-crumple moment about six years ago. It was an ACL tear with meniscus damage. She needed ligament replacement surgery and a meniscus cleaning, so to speak.

Posted by: JohninMpls | November 20, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Couldn't help to notice the footnote that the Chief's lost $45K in 2009: in this environment, that's a huge win.

Posted by: joemktg1 | November 20, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Was your wife shagging flies, or just shagging?

Posted by: section309 | November 20, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

For what it's worth (which is nothing, IMO), I had some knee crumple moments many years ago. I recovered without surgery. But I'm not a pitcher, nor do I play one on tv. Nor did my events occur under the same circumstances as those of SS. And I don't recall a pop, but it was many moons ago. OTOH, like I said. Probably worth nothing. Waiting and not knowing is difficult, especially in the Internet age, when we expect near-instant results. But still...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 20, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

LOL! (literally) Shagadelic, baby.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 20, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

we're doomed. Doomed I tell ya. After this, the Lerners will never spend a dime on the team, it'll all be for signability, and the Nats will become cellar dwellers like the Orioles. Doomed.

Posted by: swang30 | November 20, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I love Dave's little (un)intentional(?) at Chico in this post, starting it off by talking about vet beat writer Joe Strauss.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | November 20, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Yikes ... that is pretty serious ACL ***AND** MCL? No, its not like its his arm but you need those gams to throw those heaters!

Basically what they'll do is graft ... as long as no cartilage is involved he should be okay. But its going to be a long grind through physical therapy and then he needs a helluva a physical trainer to beat him back into shape after the atrophy sets in. 12-16 months seems awfully long to me. That smacks of cartilage tears ...

Could mean wearing a knee brace all the time.

Man is this team snake bit. Calling all Rizzo's!
Forget the catcher you better draft another pitcher with that #1 pick.

Posted by: periculum | November 20, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Strasburg's knee buckles under weight of Nats' expectations. Film at 11!

Posted by: BoteMan | November 20, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Yikes ... that is pretty serious ACL ***AND** MCL? No, its not like its his arm but you need those gams to throw those heaters!
Posted by: periculum | November 20, 2009 1:22 PM |
======================
umm I don't think anyone has confirmed that any of this is true, have they?

Posted by: twinbrook | November 20, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else notice they seem to be avoiding trying to spell Weimi Douoguih?

"At first, Strasburg was scheduled to travel to Washington to see the Nationals' team physician, then the statement was revised to say he was traveling instead (because of the proximity) to Los Angeles to see noted orthopedist Lewis Yocum."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | November 20, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Correct, twinbrook. And I notice that Mr. LoJank has disappeared, probably because he's gone back to sniffing glue or searching for Pink Floyd B-side lyrics or whatever he does when he's not trying to call attention to himself by fabricating stories about catastrophic injuries to potential franchise players...

Posted by: Section220 | November 20, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

"Anyone else notice they seem to be avoiding trying to spell Weimi Douoguih?"

Weimi Douoguih probably avoids trying to spell Weimi Douoguih whenever possible.

Posted by: section309 | November 20, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Dave, since when did Steven Strasberg become more important than reading a bedtime story to your OWN child?

Your job should NOT compete against your own family.

Posted by: memyselfI1 | November 20, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

"Anyone else notice they seem to be avoiding trying to spell Weimi Douoguih?"

Weimi Douoguih probably avoids trying to spell Weimi Douoguih whenever possible.

---------
Does anyone know how to pronounce it?

Posted by: Section109 | November 20, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

"Anyone else notice they seem to be avoiding trying to spell Weimi Douoguih?"

Weimi Douoguih probably avoids trying to spell Weimi Douoguih whenever possible.

---------
Does anyone know how to pronounce it?


Posted by: Section109 | November 20, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

________________________________

Ask Johnny Holliday

Posted by: TimDz | November 20, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Weimi Douoguih is best pronounced "Doc".

Posted by: greggwiggins | November 20, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

If there's any "good" news about this injury, it's that it happened now, in the offseason, with just under 90 days until pitchers and catchers report (but who's counting). This means that whatever the injury turns out to be, there will be no pressure to try and get him back on the field before he's ready. As Dave mentioned, it's not as bad as if it were an elbow or shoulder injury (though I wouldn't go so far as to say "nowhere near as bad") but, as someone else mentioned, it was a knee injury that ruined Mark Fidyrich. He hurt his knee shagging flies (though by his own admission, he was "screwing around" when it happened) and when he tried to pitch, he changed his mechanics to protect/baby the knee. This led to him ruining his arm. And while we're on the subject....what real purpose is there to having pitchers shag flies? They don't play the outfield, in fact, they are instructed never to field a popup in the infield. So why do we risk perhaps the most important players on the team having them do something they'll never do in a game? We don't have outfielders piching, or infielders putting on the "tools of ignorance", do we? So let the outfielders shag flies, let the pitchers run on the warning track, do long toss....or maybe something actually important, like how to cover first base on a bunt or ball hit to the right side. Or how to field coming off the mound....you know, something they might have to actually use someday.

All that being said, I am hoping for the best....but "pop" is only a good word in the Midwest when you want a soda. It's NEVER a good word when referring to a joint. Unfortunately, I speak from experience, having torn both my MCL and ACL (not at the same time) and my medial meniscus. The MCL/meniscus was a lateral crumple providing significant pain (I don't remember any article mentioning a pain level for SS, e.g. mild, excrutiating, etc). The ACL, however, was a "pop" with hyperextension on the knee, but not much pain....I just knew something unfortunate had happened.

So we'll wait and see. And, like others, I still plan on watching on Saturday. I want a firsthand look at Storen especially, to see if he will be our setup guy this season, as I think the plan may be. He certainly seems to be cruising through all levels and heaven knows our bullpen needs LOTS of help.

Posted by: RPrecupjr | November 20, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Nope. I suspect that the commenter was trying to stir things up with a bogus report.

---

umm I don't think anyone has confirmed that any of this is true, have they?

Posted by: twinbrook | November 20, 2009 1:35 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 20, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh, there's a new post, regarding coaching staff.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | November 20, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

"(I don't remember any article mentioning a pain level for SS, e.g. mild, excrutiating, etc). The ACL, however, was a "pop" with hyperextension on the knee, but not much pain....I just knew something unfortunate had happened."

The fact that his knee "popped" and it collapsed out from under him is not a good sign. Minimally a partial tear of the ACL along with the medial meniscus.

That's minimum 2 - 3 months of careful conditioning with knee brace after surgery. That means GCL (for rehab)->A->AA->AAA just like Storen. Not this year. Hopefully Syracuse when its nice and hot ... not cold April or October.

Posted by: periculum | November 20, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

The 'Burg is fried. I hope he enjoys his bounty. Buy yourself a 2500 sq. ft. HDTV, sit back, and laugh. I really think he is an injury prone player who will have a very short playing career. I don't even think it would be called a career. Let's hope Zimmermann can be back in 2011.

Posted by: Pete433 | November 20, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

End of the world. Absolute, positive end of the world. Monty Stratton II.

Posted by: markfromark | November 20, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh, dear God. Next time buy twenty promising nobodies with $15 mil, not one "can't miss" pitcher.

Posted by: boxjam1 | November 20, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Two injuries in a short fall season in warm weather suggest Strasburg is brittle, if not fragile. Another Nick Johnson, perhaps.

Any way you slice it, this is terrible news for a franchise that needs good news.

Posted by: JohnRDC | November 20, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Maybe they wouldn't be cursed if they, you know, paid the rent on time. Just saying, karma and all that.

Posted by: gbooksdc | November 21, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

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