“I can’t make that claim,” Strasburg said. “There’s still pretty much a month left in the season and I’m just trying to get back healthy and hopefully when we’re still playing baseball.”
As is their policy with injuries such as this, the Nationals will send the results of Strasburg’s MRI exam to be examined by another doctor — basically, a second opinion. A person familiar with the situation said Thursday that he expects that second opinion to come from Dr. Neal El Attrache, who works in the group started by the late Dr. Lewis Yocum. Yocum, a renowned elbow surgery, performed Strasburg’s Tommy John surgery in 2010. El Attrache works out of Los Angeles.
“I’m having another doctor look at the MRI results and if he feels like he wants to take a look at me, I’ll figure it out then,” Strasburg said.
For now, Strasburg is resting. He began treatment Friday with the injection. His own blood is put in a centrifuge, separating platelets from the rest of his blood. Then, that platelet-rich plasma was injected back into his elbow.
Platelets are a component of blood that contain proteins called growth factors that can help regenerate tissue. Increasing their concentration around an injury, therefore, is considered an effective approach in facilitating healing in tendons and other similar tissues.
“Basically causes inflammation in there to help speed up the recovery process or make it a little more solid, I guess,” said Strasburg, who said he will rest for four or five days before potentially ramping up treatment and forearm strengthening exercises.
As Nationals Manager Dusty Baker often says, Strasburg can be tough to read. He seemed in decent spirits Saturday, patient with questions, and said that while injuries used to eat at him, he has learned through unfortunate experience not to let them do that anymore. He explained the origins of the trouble, which he began to feel in the third inning of Wednesday’s start. Then, a few pitches before that errant fastball to Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz flew famously wide, Strasburg began to feel pain. That fastball, however, was the one that confirmed something was wrong.
“It was a little alarming to me. I think it seemed when I went out there for the third, it felt more like the seventh or eighth inning, which is kind of odd,” Strasburg said. “Just tried to get it out and then kind of felt something on a pitch and it didn’t really go away. It kind of just stayed there and I knew it probably wouldn’t have been a good idea to try to keep trying to throw through it.”
Trainer Paul Lessard said Thursday that the injury was “acute,” not an “overuse injury.” In other words, Strasburg suffered the injury in that start Wednesday, and not because of the elbow inflammation he dealt with before. Lessard explained that the swelling Strasburg had dealt with was in the posterior of his elbow, not the same place as the flexor mass Strasburg strained. Does it seem unlikely that the two injuries are unrelated? Certainly. But while Strasburg has been able to attribute previous injuries to inconsistent mechanics or compensation for other injuries, he cannot explain this one.
“You guys can speculate all you want. It happened. I know I put in all the work,” Strasburg said. “I worked as hard as I possibly can every single day trying to get better and trying to improve my game to help this team, and it’s unfortunate that it kind of ended up the way it did. But I’m just trying to stay positive, and hopefully be on top of my game come October.”