Stephen Strasburg played catch when the Washington Nationals held their first official spring training practice on Sunday, and the 2019 World Series MVP sat down to chat with manager Dave Martinez and pitching coach Jim Hickey to discuss the state of affairs as he returns from two straight seasons lost to injury and surgery.
The good news, according to Martinez and general manager Mike Rizzo, is that Strasbourg is no longer recovering from an operation at the end of July to treat neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome, a circulatory problem which, according to the general manager, is “no longer with us”.
And so, Martinez said, the three-time All-Star right-hander is set to kick off a live bullpen session on Tuesday.
“I can’t wait to watch that, and then we’ll go from there,” Martinez said during a video conference call with reporters at the team’s spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Fla. “Having him say he feels good enough to pitch to live hitters is a good sign.”
Another player slated for the rotation, however, right-hander Joe Ross, needed a procedure to clean out a bone spur on his throwing elbow last Monday.
As things stand, Ross was coming back from a partially torn elbow ligament that put him on the injured list in August, and Rizzo said the new problem will push his comeback back around six to eight weeks. .
“We’re going to have to rely on our depth a bit more now,” Rizzo said. “And hopefully when Joe is ready he can be part of that depth and help us more towards the end of the start of the season.”
After watching Strasbourg throw a ball on a flat pitch on Sunday, Martinez said: “It looks like he’s a bit looser. The fluidity was much better.
The Nationals are coming off two consecutive last-place seasons, and Strasbourg – who would be the ace of a starting staff who lost Max Scherzer – has made a total of seven starts and pitched a total of 26 2/3 innings in 2020 and 2021.
Washington’s first exhibition game is Friday; the regular season opener is April 7 at home against the New York Mets — and, potentially, Scherzer.
On other topics:
—Rizzo said the team made a contract offer to NL runner-up MVP Juan Soto shortly before the lockout began, “and we didn’t have much dialogue after that.” But our side plans to get it back very soon. He is our number one priority. Rizzo also said of the 2020 NL batting champion: “It’s his team. He is the face of the franchise.
—Martinez said he didn’t want to give the job to anyone yet.
—Rizzo said Washington’s No. 1 priority in spring training is “progressing our young players.”
—The general manager said he would like to add a veteran hitter “who can help us score runs, hit home runs, that kind of thing.”
Notes: The Nationals have agreed to a one-year contract with utility player Ehire Adrianza, according to a person familiar with the deal who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been announced . It was first reported by elextrabase.com. Adrianza, 32, started games in the outfield and at third base, second and shortstop last season for World Series champion Atlanta Braves. Adrianza has a .244 batting average and .313 on-base percentage over nine seasons with three teams.
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