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Mark Prior says not to blame the Nationals for Stephen Strasburg's injury

Mark Prior has become the modern poster child for hard-throwing pitchers who are chosen high in the draft, rise to greatness and get derailed by significant injury. His name and Stephen Strasburg have come up often in comparison, but that's a loose connection at best. They were both drafted high, but Prior's shoulder problems destroyed his career while Strasburg's elbow injury, chances are, will be a hurdle.

Anyway, lots of people have been asking Prior about Strasburg. One of them was Darren Smith of XX Radio in San Diego. Sports Radio Interviews transcribed their chat, and here is what Prior had to say:

On receiving so many requests to comment on Stephen Strasburg's injury: "I don't know why everybody wants me to comment on it. I don't know why, A) I should be commenting on it and, 2) where I have become the default -- expert would be the wrong word -- but the guy to comment on it. Let's be honest, I think everybody kind of knew and was unfortunately afraid of the outcome. Anytime you are getting a second MRI, you are looking for A) it's either hope or B) to verify what you thought originally. It's unfortunate. I've seen what's been said out there. It's unfortunate that everybody obviously has an opinion out there. It's comedy to see that everybody's opinion has changed so much in three months. That's the unfortunate thing in today's world and today's media. You say one thing six months ago and then say another thing and then honestly or at least claim to believe it."

On if there are similarities between him and Strasburg:
"Not really, besides the fact that we were both college pitchers and both players of the year in college. He was the first pick and I was the second pick. I think that's where, in my opinion, I think the parallels start veering off course. It's been ten years since I was drafted. Things have changed so much in the media and the attention and the focus of every little step. Maybe I was just a little naive to what was going on my first couple of years being in that situation ... They just needed to let him go pitch. Let him be news in Washington. But I think the national attention got to the point that it was just comical and ridiculous. That's a lot of pressure on anybody, whether you are 22, 23 years old or whether you are 35, 36. To have that kind of scrutiny day in and day out where you are expected to go out and almost throw a no-hitter is just unrealistic basically. I think we've said all along that it's unfortunate that he has to deal with this. But the Tommy John success rate is pretty good and he should be back no problem."

On where the blame should be placed for the injury:
"You certainly can't put blame on the Washington Nationals. They did everything quote-unquote "by the book," whoever wrote the book. They did everything that they thought was in the best interest of their employee or their product, however you want to describe it. I don't think anyone needs to or should question what they did. Unfortunately, like I said, everybody is coming back to second guess everything and every little detail and how it was handled. I don't think it was handled wrongly. I don't think there's a right way. I don't think there is a wrong way. Everybody is individual in terms of how they get through their careers. There is no right way or wrong way for anybody, whether it is a pitcher, whether it is a position player. It's a game that is very cutthroat like any professional sport, NFL, NBA. It's what-have-you-done-for-me-lately and what-are-you-going-to-do-for-me-tomorrow type of game. He is a very special pitcher. As a fan, I loved watching him. I do love watching him. I think he has a lot of God-given talent and I want to watch him out there. From the standpoint of what happened this year, who knows? Nobody knows. It just because it was his time? What was going to happen was going to happen whether he was in the minor leagues or the major leagues or if he was back in his senior year of college. Nobody knows what the outcome of anything is. It's just a game where you are relying on your body to do a lot of things in a grinding sport and things happen."

On those who blame him for the treatment of young pitchers:
"It's kind of like anything else. You don't listen to it. I've been through it to the point where it's whatever. In the grand scheme of things, it honestly doesn't matter. I don't think they babied Strasburg. I don't question it. It's not my place to question anything they've done with him ... Everybody's an individual. Nobody wants to see anyone get hurt. Unfortunately, in professional sports, people get hurt. That's just the reality of it. People get hurt. That's just what happens. There's no rhyme or reason to it. It just happens."

And the toughest thing Strasburg will have to deal with:
"It's going to be the peripheral stuff ... From talking to people, the elbow rehab versus the shoulder rehab is a little easier from a physical standpoint. From a mental standpoint, from the peripheral standpoint, it's a little different based on where he was drafted and what he's already accomplished. Let's not forget some of the things he's already done this year. It's not like he hasn't pitched at all. He did accomplish some things that were pretty incredible. He's going to have the attention versus a AA pitcher who is going to have Tommy John tomorrow at the same time. People are going to want to know how he is feeling in two weeks, five weeks and the fifteen week. With the other guys, nobody is going to care ... He's going to have to deal with people asking him everyday, 'How do you feel?' He's going to show up at Spring Training and people are going to want to know 'How do you feel?' every minute. That's just something he's going to have to get through. I'm sure he will."

By Adam Kilgore  |  August 30, 2010; 2:58 PM ET
Categories:  Pitching rotation , Stephen Strasburg  | Tags: Stephen Strasburg  
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Comments

You say one thing six months ago and then say another thing and then honestly or at least claim to believe it."

Or three days later, then blame the internet for keeping a record of what you said and then, bang, you're not an announcer anymore. As to Prior, for a guy who starts by saying he didn't have much to add, he had lots of interesting thoughts.

Posted by: markfromark | August 30, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Exactly.
All the internet geniuses talking about the inverted W, using Prior as some sort of demonstration of bad mechanics, it's foolish.
Never mind that as has been pointed out, Prior's problems were with his shoulder, not his elbow.
Anyone who says they saw Strasburg's injury coming is not only blowing their own horn, they're full of crap. Look at all the pitchers who have needed TJ surgery and do NOT have similar mechanics to Strasburg. The only thing they all have in common is that they are pitchers, and unfortunately, pitching puts you at a greater risk of injury.
Even my wife, who doesn't follow the sport, has said she doesn't want our kid to pitch "because pitchers get hurt too much." There was no mention of any inverted letters.

Posted by: mjhoya12 | August 30, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

i commend mark prior for his insight into the mind of a competator. the comparison between him and SS ends at being pitchers. there is so much immediate scrutiny of every aspect of the sport by everyone and we all want instant gratification. how did they survive back in the old days before TV, and the internet? SS just needs to put on his blinders, once the surgury is done, and do his rehab work. he doesn't have to be rude, and inquring minds don't need to know what's up every other minute. the day after his surgury wouldn't be the time to ask, "how's the elbow"? patience is a virtue and all sports fans need to understand that. also, stop trying to figure out the reason why this happened to him. there is no blame to place.

Posted by: joerutgens72 | August 30, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Prior's not very bright. Never has been. He knows it's because he stuffed his arm right behind his ear and threw all that breaking stuff just like Strasburg did. If they don't get any extension with his arm, and stay away from throwing 83 mph knee-bucklers 18 times a game, then he might be ok in the future. imo of course. If you've got tree trunk legs like that whipping your arm through, you better have a clear path for your arm or else the leg is going to win. When you think about Strasburg's arm, you're really thinking about his legs.

Posted by: Brue | August 30, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

You ever see any old films of Walter Johnson and how he comes almost sidearm? He's got an almost identical build to Strasburg. You see the extension he gets with his arm - it's like a whip action that he gets by pushing off with his massive legs and letting his arm travel through. The lower half is the reason they can throw 100 mph. They have the biggest legs, strongest kicks and their arms just follow. Strasburg is locked into trying to make things happen with solely his arm. That's when you start bringing the arm closer to your head so you can have more control over what you're throwing.

Posted by: Brue | August 30, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Strasburg's injury is probably George Bush's fault.

Posted by: tcurtin | August 30, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Check out how far his arm is from his body. He has massive clearance at the top of his delivery, he's almost vertical, shown at the end of the video. That's specifically why he could throw sidearm at 100 MPH. Look at the elasticity, how his arm is unencumbered>

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5n-a7CNyvo

Posted by: Brue | August 30, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

As they would say on my favorite Cleveland blog, it's Russell Branyan's fault.

Mark Prior had much good perspective to add, predominantly that his and SS's injuries were completely different. Labrums and UCLs aren't even close.

The bottom line, from a Dad who's son had TJ surgery a year ago, is that the elbow is often the weakest link in the kinetic chain of pitching. If you search for some specific mechanical flaw that "caused" it, you'll go mad. And every pitcher, depending on the level of scrutiny they receive, will be described as having a "mechanical flaw". Using those terms make people (read:sportswriters) feel smart, so they keep spouting them (remember death panels?) It's that simple. And TJ surgery has been almost perfected (in terms of results) whereas Labrum surgery is much more invasive with a less spectacular result set.
And Prior's comments about minute by minute scrutiny were spot on. We can thank the idiots at ESPN for that--everyone else ends up playing by the same rules now.

Posted by: opinionatedinfairfax | August 31, 2010 6:43 AM | Report abuse

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