Tuesday, August 31, 2010, 6:25 p.m.
By Mark Zuckerman
MIAMI -- Stephen Strasburg will have Tommy John surgery Friday in Los Angeles after a second enhanced MRI taken Monday confirmed the Washington Nationals' original diagnosis of a significant tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
General manager Mike Rizzo said orthopedist Lewis Yocum will perform the ligament replacement surgery, with Nationals team doctor Wiemi Douoguih assisting. The two also performed teammate Jordan Zimmermann's Tommy John surgery last August.
Strasburg will return to his home in San Diego and immediately begin physical therapy at the nearby Scripps Clinic. He won't be allowed to resume throwing a ball, however, for four months, at which point he'll report to the Nationals' spring training complex in Viera, Fla.
"Anything baseball-related, he'll be in Viera," Rizzo said.
Rizzo said Yocum's examination of Strasburg revealed the exact same thing previous exams did. Just like the Phillies team doctor who examined Strasburg immediately after he was pulled from his August 21 start in Philadelphia, Yocum said simple physical tests suggested the pitcher's arm was fine. But the arthrogram, an enhanced MRI in which a dye is injected into the arm to better reveal any damage, confirmed a "significant" tear of the UCL.
"It was very similar findings," Rizzo said. "He gave him the physical tests and was surprised that he could deal with all the physical testing. He tested very well. Because of the physical tests, he gave him another arthrogram and found the same thing. And his recommendation was he needed surgery."
Strasburg's rookie season thus is officially over; in 12 starts he went 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings. The 22-year-old also pitched 55 13 innings in the minors before his June 8 promotion to the big leagues.
Now, Strasburg faces 12-to-18 months of rehabilitation, hoping he'll become the latest in a growing list of pitchers who have successfully returned from Tommy John surgery and in many cases performed better after having the ligament replaced.
"He's dealing with it like a professional," Rizzo said. "Very determined to get it done and start the process of rehabbing."
Mark Zuckerman covered the Nationals for The Washington Times from 2005-09. In addition to regular work this season for CSNwashington.com, he also covers the team at www.natsinsider.com. Email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.