Stephen Strasburg Suffers Setback, Timetable For Return Unclear

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Stephen Strasburg’s stretch of brutal injury luck continues. Manager Dave Martinez informed reporters (including Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post and Mark Zuckerman of today the former World Series MVP recently suffered a setback in his rehab from thoracic outlet syndrome. He’s not listed on the club’s Spring Training roster, and Martinez conceded there’s no current timetable for him to get back on a mound.

Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported earlier this month Strasburg had begun a throwing program after seeing his 2022 season cut short by continued TOS symptoms. Martinez told the media today the three-time All-Star recovered as hoped from his first throwing session but experienced nerve discomfort after his second workout. It was a similar story last summer, when Strasburg felt nerve discomfort in his ribcage area during a bullpen session between starts. That injury, suffered in July, sidelined him for the entire second half.

The former first overall pick made one start last year and has pitched in just eight MLB games going back to the beginning of the 2020 season. He was initially diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome during the shortened season, undergoing surgery that year after two starts. He returned for five appearances in 2021 before undergoing thoracic outlet surgery (which involves the removal of part of a rib to alleviate nerve pressure) and told Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post in September his TOS symptoms have dated back at least as far as 2018.

Strasburg candidly acknowledged in that chat with Dougherty he was uncertain whether he’d ever again approach his pre-injury form. Now 34, he admitted at the time that age was working against his comeback effort and said he wasn’t “really sure what the future holds.” Unfortunately, he’ll now have to navigate another setback and renewed uncertainty.

It doesn’t seem there’s any consideration of Strasburg giving up his pursuit of making it back to the major leagues at this point. Martinez told reporters Strasburg “(knows) in his heart he wants to pitch.” It seems inevitable he’ll head to the 60-day injured list whenever the Nats need a 40-man roster spot to accommodate an addition and isn’t clear when he’ll again be able to start throwing.

Strasburg signed a seven-year, $245MM free agent contract to stick with Washington after throwing 209 innings of 3.32 ERA ball in the regular season and dominating in the playoffs to help the club to its first World Series title. He’s receiving a $35MM salary annually through 2026, though around $11.43MM of each year’s salary is deferred with interest until 2028.

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