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Stephen Strasburg addresses media on his Tommy John surgery


Stephen Strasburg addressed the media Friday afternoon, hours after it was revealed that he will require Tommy John surgery and will miss the next 12 to 18 months.

Strasburg sat next to General Manager Mike Rizzo, clean-shaven wearing a green polo. He was remarkably composed and thoughtful, reflecting on his emotions and his goals. Here is a full transcription of his comments:

On his reaction:
"It was kind of a shock to me, because I didn't really feel anything. It is what it is. In a way, it's good that it happened now, instead of when we're going to the postseason or getting ready for a World Series. This is a new challenge. I want to be the best at everything. Right now, I'm going to be the best at rehabbing and getting back out here."

On advice Jordan Zimmermann gave him:
"He was telling me that, especially early on, you're going to be questioning yourself. It's going to feel really, really good on some days and the next day it will be tight. He said you've just got to remind yourself that it is 100 percent healthy, just to push through it, just to stick with the program and not try and do too much, but at the same time, get what you need to get done."


On inspiration from other pitchers:
Absolutely. You look at all the guys in the big leagues who are Cy Young contenders, Hall of Famers who have had this surgery, and it's become such a specialty these days. I know I'm going to the best [Dr. Lewis Yocum] and I know deep down inside I'm going to work just as hard if not harder than any of these guys who had to go through it before. I'll be back here soon."

On what he felt when he threw his final pitch:
It felt more like a flexor strain than anything. It felt like my forearm cramped up. That was about it. After that, as far as the stress test and everything, I didn't feel any pain. That was the thing that kind of threw it off. I think that was from being strong and flexible to begin with. Who knows when it happened? Bottom line, it is what it is. You just got to move forward.

On the kind challenge and his mind set:
You're right. It's a new challenge. It's going to be a big learning experience. I feel like I'm going to be able to grow a lot as an individual and as a baseball player. Looking at the bright side, it's going to get me six months to really not worry about throwing and really get strong in my lower half, my core, my shoulder, get everything strong so when it is time for me step on the rubber, it's going to be a totally new ballgame for me and I'll be ready to tackle a full season.

On similarity between this and what he felt in college:
That's the weird thing. What happened the other night is something that I felt before. Nothing was torn then. Personally, I don't know what the doctors think, but I think it might have been more something that happened over time and it never really popped up until we decided to go on the MRI machine for the flexor muscle. It happens. It happens to a lot of pitchers out there. It's a pretty common thing. Just got to roll with it and get better.

On if he finds himself looking for an explanation:
If I keep looking for an explanation, it's just going to eat at me. I got to let it go. I've just got to move on. That's what I'm doing. Everything happens for a reason. This is obviously a test for me. I've never had any shoulder or elbow surgery in my entire life. It's going to be a new experience. I'm just going to embrace it. I'm going to find the good in everything.

On any worries about his changeup, which he also felt at SDSU:
You can dig into that all you want. You're looking at two changeups of the hundreds of thousands of changeups that I've thrown, whether it's out in the outfielder, in a bullpen, during a game. I mean, it could have been any pitch.

On the experience of his season:
Definitely a whirlwind. It kind of sucks to have it end like this. I've got a lot of great experience when I was up here. The weird thing about it, that last game, that was when everything started to click. That was when I had that feeling. That was a packed house with some rowdy fans, and I didn't feel like they were there. I was just so locked in, and everything was working. Sure enough, something happened. But that's something to build on. Tomorrow, I'm just going to write down a piece of paper everything that I'm thinking right now and look at it a year from now.

On the time it took to get from initial reaction to embracing challenge:
It didn't take a matter of minutes. It took, definitely, a few hours. I've got great support all around me. They reminded me of everything I should be thankful for. They put everything in perspective for me. The big thing, the bottom line, this is a game. I'm very blessed to play this game for a living. This is a minor setback, but in the grand scheme of things it's just a blip on the radar screen.

Was the initial reaction confusion, anger?
Little bit of both.

On if he knew something was wrong:
That's the thing. When got the MRI results, I came to the field thinking they were going to let me play catch. I didn't really think that there was anything wrong. It just happened. I can't really explain it. I'm not going to try to explain it anymore.

Strasburg will leave tomorrow for Los Angeles and Yocum's office. In his mind, it's not a matter of a second opinion.

On that piece of paper:
So I don't forget all the things I'm thinking about right now. You're mind might get a little jumbled through this experience. I don't know what to expect. I've just got to remember everything I want to focus so next time I go out there and pitch, I can just keep going like I was this year.

On the No. 1 thing on the list:
"I'll keep that to myself. I might show you guys that in a year from now."

On if he wants to pitch at the very end of 2011:
"We're just going to have to wait and see. I'm just going to work as hard as possibly can. If I get back a year from now, that would be great. If I get back a little bit after that, it is what is. We're going to do what's right. We're not going to try to come back early to where there's problems and things are going to happen again. I'm going to come back and be fully healthy and be ready to go."

By Adam Kilgore  |  August 27, 2010; 4:11 PM ET
Categories:  Stephen Strasburg  
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Next: Without Stephen Strasburg next year, Mike Rizzo moves ahead

Comments

Awesome. So much for 2011

Posted by: jboogie1 | August 27, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

get well soon.

Posted by: longterm | August 27, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

What a bummer. I root for every time in DC and Maryland. The Nationals took it easy and didn't force this guy to do anything out of the ordinary and now this. is this area cursed?? McNabb should be getting comfortable tonight in the new system but he's on the sidelines with a hurt ankle. The Wizards seem to be turning it around hopefully John Wall will stay healthy. The Caps are still strong. But what luck or should I say rotten luck for the Nats. Hopefully this is a blessing in disguise even though it doesn't look that way now

Posted by: donaldtaylor | August 27, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Maybe he was injured prior to being signed by DC.

Posted by: BaltoBoy2 | August 27, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Continuing the discussion from the last post:
I'll be very disappointed if the Nats' management takes the attitude that SS's injury changes everything as far as trying to put together a winning team next year. After all, JZmmnn is back. Fans cannot be expected to wait yet another year for a contender. We need to build on this year, not step back, or attendance will suffer and the revenues needed to re-sign Zimmerman and ultimate SS will not be there. If you are a serious franchise and your No. 1 starter goes down, you don't cry in your beer and tell everyone that now you have no chance to win, you go out and get the best starter to replace him that you can.

There is no joy in Natstown, Mighty Stephen's elbow has blown out.

Posted by: Section222 | August 27, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Do you remember where you were when you heard that Stephen Strasburg was going under the knife? Today had that kinda feel to it.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | August 27, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for all the coverage on this today, Adam, as depressing as it is.

Posted by: PattyinSJ | August 27, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

I agree with PattyinSJ--terrific coverage, Adam. Thanks for getting it all, and getting it so quickly.

Posted by: Section109 | August 27, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

The only positive I have to say about this is at least they found it now and are taking care of it... as opposed to, what if he had already been shut down for the year because of his innings limit... and then this injury didn't rear its head until spring training 2011... that would have been worse, it would have cost him 2011 and in 2012 he would be back to basically where he is now at best, pitching tentatively with the innings limit...

Maybe this way, he can start pitching some towards the tail end of 2011 and be ready to roll in spring training 2012...

OK, this sux... but trying to put some positive spin on it...

And, agreed with other commentary... the weakest link on this team this year and for the past several years has been starting pitching... the bullpen is actually good (not perfect, but good)... the offense has some serious holes, but you can see some potential positional reinforcements on the way soon (Ramos at C, Espinosa at 2b)... same with the defense, there are some serious holes that you can see some hope of being filled... but, starting pitching has been miserable for years and they need to do something other then signing pipe dreams expecting them to come off of serious injuries to be quality starters for any length of time...

Ahhh, 2012, Strasburg and Zimmermann could anchor the rotation... Storen closing games... young positional players like Zimmerman, Ramos, Espinosa, Desmond, Bernie, and maybe Marrero and even Harper at some point...

Problem is, 2012 seems really far away right now... because everytime you feel like a real positive vibe is rising in DC, something devastating like this happens...

Ugh...

Posted by: Ghost7 | August 27, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Skinsfan: You know, I actually will remember where I was when I heard this. Just devastating. We all had such high hopes, and he was so much fun to watch. But this kid has the right mindset to come back if his body cooperates at all. So all we can do now is wish him all the best.

I really hope the ownership doesn't decide to use this as an excuse to not sign Dunn and field a(nother) lousy team for 2011. They really do owe the fans more than that. They have owed us more than that for awhile now, and most of us are getting a little testy about waiting any longer. Promises for 2012 just ain't gonna do it for my 1/4 ST package anymore. If that is their attitude, then I will reconsider another package in 1012 or 2013, but not next year unless I see something from them. Dunn is the first step. Then they need to address the other holes, and not through retreads, either.

Posted by: NatsFly | August 27, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse


I hope the Nats start Espinosa at 2b next year. It would be great to see Danny and Desi have a year together before 2012, when we crank up the Strasburg-Harper show.

Posted by: Drew8 | August 27, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Maybe he was injured prior to being signed by DC.

Posted by: BaltoBoy2 | August 27, 2010 4:49 PM

He wasn't. All teams require an MRI before signing.

Posted by: MKadyman | August 27, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

I feel like a ten year old whose favorite player got hurt. Or like I did when they left town in '71 - A TEN YEAR OLD. Because they might as well have left effin town after this

Posted by: Brue | August 27, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

I was absolutely right about this guy. I think he was damaged goods prior to the contract. He is young. He was under strict pitch counts. He had great mechanics. I think Scott Boras had Strasburg wait to announce until after Harper was signed. I heard Boras borrowed somebody's car in the minors to go to church. If he truly went, he was not listening.

The Nats got taken.
.

Posted by: hz9604 | August 27, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

>Maybe he was injured prior to being signed by DC.

Posted by: BaltoBoy2 | August 27, 2010 4:49 PM

He wasn't. All teams require an MRI before signing.

Posted by: MKadyman

He felt a sharp pain. That's what happens when you rip something. I think when the fatigue hit and they put him on the DL the first time that his arm was reacting to the consistent use. Injuries usually pop up right behind that. If you have a weakness in your arm, the torque has to go somewhere, and he felt it in his shoulder first - he favored it, and his elbow paid for it.
Ah, look at the bright side. Like Fill Wood said tonite - 'it might only take 14-15 months for him to come back instead of 18. Who cares - the season is over after 13 months anyway.

Posted by: Brue | August 27, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

What a great kid. I'm proud to be a Nats fan.

Posted by: richardshaker | August 27, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

@hz9604...

don't let the facts get in the way of your theory ... how many times do you have to read/hear that he had pre-signing MRI, etc., and nothing showed up...

some folks just want to believe what they want to believe rather than get confused by the facts.

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Posted by: helonwhite0815 | August 27, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

I wish him all the best in his recovery. I like his answers- he seems to have a great attitude. Just one quibble- I wish he'd stop saying "it is what it is". That's one new sports cliche that I'm already tired of hearing.

Posted by: justmike | August 27, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Are you kidding me...remember where you were when you, heard "the news". Did I miss something?? The kid could throw 100+, sometimes. He didn't win a college championship, in fact he played in the Mountain West. That's not exactly a power house conference. Come on, the media overrated this guy from the beginning. And JZimm?? What's he ever done?? Very few teams are winning World Championships, by drafting future Hall of Fame pitchers. Don't feel too bad for SS, he's made a fortune. Feel bad for all the Nats fans who plunked down 100 bucks for that SS jersey.

Posted by: starsky13 | August 27, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Nats fans should be proud of the absolute CLASS Strasburg has shown all season, especially at this difficult time. He is an inpiration. Good luck Stephen -- we're with ya all the way, no matter how long or the outcome.

Posted by: rej123 | August 27, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Brue, I share your pain, but really, it's not as bad as losing the team.
I cried my eyes out as a kid when the original Senators moved, and DC was left with a bunch of scrubs the next year (but at least we had something!)
After waiting 35 years, we'll get past this, hard as it is. It'll take more than those of here, however, to prove that DC can be a great baseball town.

Posted by: nats24 | August 28, 2010 12:39 AM | Report abuse

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