Comeback winners give hope to Strasburg, Zimmermann

Major league baseball announced Tuesday that pitchers Tim Hudson and Francisco Liriano have each won the Comeback Player of the Year Award.

Hudson won the National league honor and will start Game 3 of the NLDS between the Atlanta Braves and the San Francisco Giants.

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Liriano helped guide the Minnesota Twins to the American League Central title with a 14-10 record and a 3.62 ERA. He will start game 1 of the ALDS versus the New York Yankees Wednesday night.

Both players returned from elbow ligament replacement surgeries to have outstanding 2010 seasons.

Liriano, a 26-year-old left-hander, missed the entire 2007 season and has been limited by injuries the past two campaigns.

The 35-year-old right-handed Hudson was 17-9 with a 2.83 ERA and 139 strikeouts and led the Braves in wins and innings pitched (228 2/3). He underwent the procedure in 2008 and had only seven starts in 2009.

Of course you don't hear about the Tommy John surgery stories that don't go well, but this has to be a good sign and a means of encouragement for Nationals pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.

Zimmermann continually said all season that the one thing he noticed the most about his arm post-Tommy John was how quickly he bounced back from each start. He says his arm feels stronger than it did prior to the procedure.

Strasburg spoke with the media last week and says he had his cast removed three weeks ago and is beginning intensive physical therapy as he works to get his full range of motion back in his throwing arm.

Zimmermann says this time is critical for Strasburg.

"The first month or two is the worst part," Zimmermann remembered. "You have to be in the cast and then you have to be in a brace for awhile. You try to get your range of motion back. That is the hardest part. Once you get through that you can do normal activities. The time really flies."

Zimmermann had his surgery last August and said he was back to throwing in late October.

"It was about two months. You can do pretty much anything you want after those first two months. For me, the first two months were the hardest. I went back up to Wisconsin. There isn't much to do up there in the winter time. I just hung out with my buddies and tried to keep myself busy."

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