Right-hander Stephen Strasburg has said the major physical difference in his pitching makeup, besides the obvious new ligament in his right elbow, is his overall strength and conditioning. He has said his body is in the best shape of his life.
Following Tommy John surgery late last season, Strasburg had 365 days to get the rest of his body in better shape. He is leaner and stronger than he was in June 2010 when he debuted for the Nationals against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Strasburg is also more aware of how important his conditioning is to making him a better pitcher.
It wasn't that he didn't take his preparation between starts seriously last season. But now that he has been through the most infamous of pitching injuries, he has become acutely focused on everything he needs to do to get better, especially when it has to do with recovery and adding core strength between starts.
Strasburg completed his fourth rehab start Wednesday in impressive fashion with six strikeouts and allowing just two singles. After each start, Strasburg has had a busy schedule of conditioning exercises for 60 to 90 minutes before speaking with the media.
He said his schedule is a meticulous list of set exercises that he completes each post game.
"It is a lot more regimented," Strasburg said. "I know exactly what I need to do the night after I pitch and the next day. What I need to get ready for my bullpen (session) and how many pitches I want to throw in my bullpen. That stays constant and that is something I can't control. It is going to put me in a position to hopefully go out have some success every fifth day."
Strasburg said the exercises involve "normal shoulder work I have been doing since they cleared me to do after surgery. The next day I flush it out by getting a good lift in. (Then I) long toss and the next day is your bullpen day. Then, there is more running and more shoulder work."
The postgame exercises include gap stabilization, forearms, shoulder movements with light weights and stretch bands.
"The big thing that they want to do with me is keep my muscles confused," Strasburg said. "They never get used to doing the same exercise over and over again. There is a set of exercises that I filter through every few weeks to just kind of keep my muscles guessing."