It seems a little crazy that Stephen Strasburg can throw a baseball already.
Just five months after having a ligament in his elbow replaced with a tendon from his thigh, Strasburg started the next step on his path back to a major league pitching mound this week. He’s obviously not gunning 100 mph fastballs, but still those short-distance tosses out in southern California must feel like quite a milestone.
Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty told the Washington Post that Strasburg said that “he tossed a ball, that he was really excited. I just kind of laughed. He was so excited to be able to toss a ball. I'm not sure what the process is, because it can vary. But I know he tossed a ball. It was a very short distance. He was very happy."
Don’t get your hopes up for a quicker return to the Nationals, though. He’s still on schedule to miss most if not all of the season, with a target return of September.
CSNWashington.com’s Mark Zuckerman reported that the team won’t hesitate to delay his return to the big leagues until 2012, but that they would like for him to get a few starts in September if possible.
Of course, seeing how careful they were with his pitch count before the injury, it’s hard to imagine them letting him return to the mound in the majors until they’re absolutely, positively 100 percent sure his arm is ready to go.
Strasburg will, however, report to spring training with the other pitches and catchers next week. But instead of stretching out his arm and working on his delivery, he’ll focus on building up the strength in his arm that he lost after blowing out his elbow on that fateful August day in Philadelphia.
So while the road to recovery is still long, just being able to pick up a baseball and throw it in another direction is a positive sign for Strasburg – and for Nats fans, too.