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Strasburg Shut Down: Local Perspective on Baseball's Biggest Ordeal

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 09:47 PM CDT
Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals' best pitcher. However, because he's a veteran of Tommy John Surgery, Washington put him on an innings count. Last Friday, the Nationals decided they'd seen enough and shut him down for the year. Washington has the best record in baseball, and plays in a city set to host its first playoff game since 1933.

It's baseball's most baffling ordeal. Few are able to wrap their heads around the Nationals' decision to shut down their best pitcher with three weeks to go in a pennant race. UT's John Curtiss can not only wrap his head around it, he can put his arm around it.

"It's tough for me to just look at it as a fan," says Curtiss. "That decision came down the same time as I was going through Tommy John surgery."

Tommy John Surgery, named after the former Dodgers pitcher, replaces an injured elbow ligament with a healthy tendon from elsewhere in the body. Stephen Strasburg had the procedure in September 2010. Curtiss, a sophomore pitcher for the Longhorns, is a month removed from Tommy John and he understands Washington's pitch to shut down its ace.

"As a competitor, you strive your hole life to win the world series or as a collegiate, win the College World Series," says Curtiss. "So when it's taken away from you it's tough. I'm probably in the minority, but I agree with their decision. I admire them for sticking to their guns."

Strasburg will miss out on his first chance at the Major League playoffs. UT pitching coach Skip Johnson, who spends as much time teaching mental mechanics as pitching mechanics, says he does not expect this monumental decision to effect Strasburg's psyche in the future.

"There's always going to be naysayers pointing the finger and saying he cost us a World Series," says Johnson. "But the biggest issue for him is that he just can't look back."

But it's human nature to look back. And Strasburg is two years removed from Tommy John Surgery.

"I think most of them are pretty close to 100% at that point," says Dr. Steve Wilson.

Wilson, a member of the Orthopaedic Associates of Central Texas, has been the team physician for the Round Rock Express since the team's inception. He feels a pitch count, rather than an innings count, would have been a more accurate gauge of stress of Strasburg's arm. However, he salutes the Nationals' commitment to their investment.

"A lot of teams would be going for broke, not protecting their player in search of immediate benefits," says Dr. Wilson.

Like most controversial decisions in our nation's capital, there are varying opinions on this one. But one thing is clear. In 2012, as most of Washington, D.C. is focused on the next four years, the Nationals appear to be looking much further down the line.Strasburg Shut Down: Local Perspective on Baseball's Biggest Ordeal


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