Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg is not happy that manager Davey Johnson and general manager Mike Rizzo decided to end his season on Saturday. The organization had planned for Strasburg to pitch 160 innings this season after returning from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He pitched 159 1/3. Johnson said that he felt Strasburg was distracted before Friday night’s matchup against the Miami Marlins in which the pitcher gave up five runs in three innings of work.
On Saturday morning Strasburg was called in by Johnson and Rizzo to inform him of their decision. Strasburg described the meeting as a ‘shocking’ experience while talking to reporters. He admitted that talk of his impending shutdown bothered him and was a distraction, but felt as though he would get one more start.
Strasburg is upset, because he feels that by not pitching he is letting his teammates down. He understands why the decision was made. He trusts the team and the medical staff. He says that he will be a good teammate. Strasburg simply feels that the best way for him to help the team is by pitching in October.
Let’s face it there is nothing worse for an athlete than not being able to help the team. No one wants to sit idle while their team competes whether it is in a championship chase or a meaningless regular season game. You wear the uniform and sit on the bench, but don’t feel like a part of the team.
If Strasburg did not feel this way then he wouldn’t be a competitor. He has known all along that his season would end in September. He has known that he will not pitch in the post season. Still like any athlete, Strasburg held out some hope that the team would change its mind and let him pitch a little longer.
Now that his season is over Strasburg is finding it hard to accept. He says that the decision ‘sucks’, but understands that it is about the team as much as him. Strasburg knows that the Nationals want him around for the long haul not just this season. He knows that they are trying to look out for his best interests.
This has not made the decision easier to accept. As September turns to march Strasburg will watch helplessly while the Nationals fight to win a world’s championship. If they win it all he’ll know that his performance played a big part in it. If they do not he will surely feel as though he let his teammates down.
It is a heavy burden for a young man to carry, but one Stephen Strasburg will have to accept.