Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg Is High-Maintenance, But Worth It

By James Williams
Brad Mills – USA Today Sports

Washington Nationals superstar Stephen Strasburg will throw this afternoon and if all goes well, he will pitch on Thursday night at Nationals Park against the Miami Marlins. Strasburg was scratched from his last scheduled start on Friday night at home against the Philadelphia Phillies because of forearm discomfort, which he told Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty about three hours before the game.

To many, Strasburg is being “babied” by the Nationals, but that is far from the truth. Make no mistake about it — from last season’s famous shutdown to Friday night’s scratch from the lineup, the Nationals superstar pitcher has a huge say in what is being done.

What many people who have not followed Strasburg’s career from a medical side do not seem to know is that he has one of the most complex and violent pitching motions in baseball. The amount of torque he puts on his arm and the numerous arm angles that he throws from are like no other pitcher in baseball today.

When the Nationals drafted Strasburg, they knew that they were getting a very high-maintenance pitcher, but that he could be one of the greats of all-time if he were treated right. From the time he left college to the 2013 season, the Nationals have given Strasburg special treatment because he is special.

If his throwing motion is off even a little bit, you can see it in his face. He knows to talk with McCatty when it is about mechanics. But when it comes to issues with the arm from the pain side, that is a far different matter.

He consults with the Nationals’ medical staff, headed up by famed Washington orthopedic surgeon Dr. Wiemi Douoguih. He is known nationally for his care of professional athletes. He has served as an orthopedic surgeon for both the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens of the NFL.

Keeping the right arm of Straburg healthy is like taking care of Stradivarius violin — you have make sure that it is well tuned and in the best working order possible. No one is more aware of his body and the care of his arm than Strasburg, and he and Dr. Douoguih understand what is best long-term for the young right-hander.

When Strasburg can’t pitch, he gets upset and frustrated — that is to be expected. But no one has to tell him that his arm hurts and that playing through the pain or stiffness could end his career. His work this season thus far has been outstanding for the most part, and there is no reason to think that, barring injury, Strasburg won’t be pitching for the Nationals for a long time.

Rant Sports columnist James Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award winning producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Wordmandc and join his circle at Google +

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