Nationals right-handed reliever Ryan Mattheus remembers a year after his July 2009 Tommy John surgery and how physically demanding his rehab workouts had become. He can empathize with Stephen Strasburg, who is scheduled to make his fifth rehab start Saturday night in Syracuse for the Triple-A Chiefs.
Strasburg is scheduled to pitch a maximum of 80 pitches or five innings and then have another rehab start Wednesday, most likely in Double-A Harrisburg.
"I know this part of my rehab, I was dead tired," Mattheus remembered. "I was exhausted. It is a long rehab and a long process. I am excited to see how (Strasburg) comes out of it."
Strasburg detailed Monday the postgame strength and conditioning regimen he goes through and how much more serious the workout is compared to before the injury.
Mattheus said the work necessary to build strength and maintain flexibility in your pitching arm during the rehab process is crucial to getting all the way back.
"That is one thing you can control in the whole rehab process is the intensity of your workouts. You can control how hard you are going to go about your rehab," Mattheus said.
But Mattheus said that doesn't mean you have to tip-toe around the surgically repaired elbow. It is strong enough to endure maximum effort and it is not going to cause you to reinjure the arm.
"I don't know if it is so much about being careful," Mattheus said. "That is one thing I think you have to get over is trying to be too careful. You are going to have to be normal, try not to baby it too much."
Mattheus has been around Strasburg for a while now and can see how much getting back to the majors consumes the former San Diego State star. Mattheus had the similar drive to return to the big leagues after his ligament replacement in 2009.
"I just know his work ethic and seeing it," Mattheus said. "I am kind of the same type of guy. I got after it. I really pushed myself to get back in contention to be on a major league team."