LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - New Nationals manager Matt Williams said Tuesday that right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who underwent surgery to remove bone chips from his throwing elbow in late October, will be “full go” for spring training.
“His rehab has gone phenomenal,” Williams said while addressing reporters at the Winter Meetings. “Everything checks out from a medical standpoint. He is ready to go, day one spring training. Full go.”
Strasburg’s surgery, performed in Los Angeles, caused some worry that he might not be ready for the start of spring training. He went 8-9 with a 3.00 ERA in 30 starts, logging 183 innings a year after he was shut down early following Tommy John surgery, missing the Nationals’ appearance in the National League Division Series.
Strasburg is expected to be the ace of a deep starting rotation and could make his third straight season opening start when the Nationals open the 2014 campaign March 31 at Citi Field against the New York Mets.
Last season, Strasburg was on the hill for the club’s season and home opener against the Marlins, tossing seven innings of three-hit ball in a 2-0 shutout. In 2012, he started the Nats’ season opener in Chicago, but got a no-decision in a 2-1 victory, despite allowing one run on five hits over seven innings.
Harper had the bursa in his left knee repaired, hopefully solving a problem that dogged him for much of the season after he crashed face-first into the right field wall at Dodger Stadium trying to make a catch. He missed 31 games while on the disabled list with left knee bursitis.
The 21-year-old played through pain and swelling for much of rest of the season, hitting .274 with 20 homers and 58 RBIs in 118 games.
LaRoche, who batted .237 with 20 homers and 62 RBIs in 152 games, had his left elbow, his throwing elbow, cleaned out. He made a couple of off-target throws last year, unusual for a guy whose stellar defense earned him a Gold Glove in 2012.
Williams spoke with LaRoche last week in Washington before the first baseman left to participate in the USO Holiday Tour.
“He’s been in the woods pulling back the bow, so his elbow’s in good shape,” the manager said, referring to LaRoche’s frequent offseason hunting trips.
Williams said the fact that the three players needed only minor procedures removed any worries that they might not be ready for spring training in Viera, Fla., in mid-February.
“The good thing about the offseason surgeries this year is that they were clean-up surgeries,” Williams said. “They weren’t major surgeries. It was stuff that is easily rehabbed and they should be ready.”
Update: Just back from our daily session with general manager Mike Rizzo, who echoed Williams’ comments on the three Nationals recovering from postseason surgery.
Rizzo said it’s possible that the Nats will exercise caution with Strasburg until they’re convinced there are no residual effects from his surgery. That wouldn’t be a surprise, considering how closely they monitored his recovery from Tommy John and the innings limit he was subjected to.
“I think he should be fully rehabbed and be in full spring training mode when he gets to spring training,” Rizzo said. “We may be a little more cautious with him, obviously, to start and see where it’s at. But from the doctor’s reports and the calendars we get, he should be ready to participate fully at spring training. Same thing with LaRoche and Harp.”