Life these days for Stephen Strasburg is nothing like it was three months ago. His day-to-day routine is conducted in relative anonymity a coast away from the Washington Nationals and the media members who chronicled every pitch the right-hander threw during his rookie season. He works out, strengthening his core or his legs, takes classes at San Diego State to inch toward his degree and waits until doctors tell him the new ligament in his elbow is strong enough that he can start throwing again.
The rookie who often sought refuge from the attention crush during his 2 1/2-month introduction to the majors now has more quiet than he could ever want. But he knows that if he can excel in this period of his career, he'll be much more likely to excel in the next one.
Strasburg, who had Tommy John surgery on September 3, got the cast taken off his arm two weeks ago and is starting to see the range of motion come back to his arm. He still has not started the rehab program and won't begin throwing until around the first of the year, but he's doing everything he can to get fitter before then.
"What people tell me is that the more boring it is, the better," Strasburg said. "The first few months, it's about letting the new ligament heal and naturally recovering. But at the same time, (it's) eating healthy, trying to do some sort of workout every single day, whether it's core or going on the elliptical (trainer). I'm doing everything in my power to get stronger while this thing heals."
Strasburg said Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter and first baseman Albert Pujols have talked to him about the experience of having the surgery, and he's discussed things with Jordan Zimmermann, who had the surgery last August and has returned from it this month. He is still watching the Nationals on TV most nights and admitted it's hard to stomach being away from the team.
But he's confident in the accomplishments of his rookie year (a 5-3 record, 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings) and his ability to get back to that level.
"I'm chalking it up as a great season," he said. "It's unfortunate for this to happen, but out there, I stirred up the baseball world well enough that a lot more people are becoming Nats fans. I know they're going to be there when I come back."