Strasburg strong in return

Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at Nationals Park in Washington on September 6, 2011. This is Strasburg’s first Major League game since undergoing Tommy John surgery last September. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Stephen Strasburg pitched five shutout innings in his first Major League game since undergoing Tommy John surgery last September.

Stephen Strasburg met every reasonable expectation, and exceeded several ridiculous ones, in his nearly flawless return to the major leagues Tuesday night at Nationals Park.

Where’s the rust or the lost command? Who returns to the big leagues after 382 days away for elbow surgery with more precision and better efficiency than when he left? Who fans one Dodger on a 99 mph fastball, barely allows an audibly struck ball in five innings, but has the touch and finesse to fan both Matt Kemp and Andre Eithier on 90 mph change-ups?

It’s amazing how far we’ve come with Tommy John surgery.

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Strasburg responds to Dibble’s comments about father’s alleged e-mail

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg pitches to the Kansas City Royals in the sixth inning of their MLB interleague baseball game in Washington, in this June 23, 2010 file photo. According to the team’s website, Strasburg has a significant tear in his ulnar collateral ligament will likely require Tommy John surgery, the team announced in a conference call on August 27, 2010. Picture taken June 23, 2010. REUTERS/Gary Cameron/Files (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Friday I posted a story from the Washington Post that included comments by Rob Dibble on how he believes an e-mail sent by Stephen Strasburg’s father to Nationals’ owner Ted Lerner was the reason he was booted from the MASN broadcast booth in D.C. last year. (The alleged e-mail stemmed from some comments Dibble made on air after Strasburg hurt his elbow during a game last year and the broadcaster told him to “suck it up.”)

After hearing about Dibble’s comments about his father, Strasburg took to Twitter in attempts to set the story straight:

For those of you wondering my dad doesn’t even have the Lerners’ email… Actually was a fan of Dibble believe it or not

Actually, if I’m deciding between whether or not to believe that it was Strasburg’s father that wrote the e-mail or one of Dibble’s fans, I’m going with Strasburg’s father. I wouldn’t put it past Lerner to a) give his e-mail to the franchise’s father and b) try to get Dibble off the air after he made some controversial comments about said franchise. But maybe that’s just me.

Either way, the whole situation is ridiculous. As I wrote yesterday, MASN hired Dibble to share his opinions and you don’t give Rob Dibble a job without taking a risk that he’s going to say something controversial. This is the same guy who was once involved in a brawl with then-manager Lou Pinella following a Reds game during his playing days. You hire Dibble to be a little edgy.

Alas, like all ridiculous stories, this one will die off soon enough. I actually think the only reason Strasburg responded to Dibble’s comments is because he’s hurt and isn’t pitching. If he had to take the hill in less than five days, I doubt he would be worried about anything that comes out of Dibble’s mouth. (Or at least I hope he wouldn’t.)

Rob Dibble: Starsburg’s dad got me booted from broadcast booth

Washington Nationals’ pitcher Stephen Strasburg pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning at Nationals Park on August 15, 2010. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

A year after he told Stephen Strasburg to “suck it up” after the Nationals’ starter injured his elbow (which resulted in him having Tommy John surgery), Rob Dibble is opening his mouth again.

According to Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post, Dibble claims that he was let go at MASN because of an e-mail that Strasburg’s father wrote to the Nationals’ owner Ted Lerner.

“Listen, it’s their team, they acted in their own interests,” he told columnist Mark Kriegel. “And I’m gonna tell you something that I’ve never told anybody before. It was basically Strasburg’s father [who] e-mailed the owner and basically was offended by what I said.

“Now remember, I said that on my own radio show on another network, and his father e-mailed the owner and the owner wanted me out of there. so that’s the bottom line. So that should end it. I want Stephen to go on, never have my name brought up and have a great career. I had a great career, I had fun, had a great seven years, and it’s sad for me that people still associate me with him. There should be no association with him.”

As Steinberg points out, if Dibble doesn’t want his name to be associated with Strasburg then he shouldn’t be telling a national audience that the young pitcher’s father is the reason he no longer works for MASN. That’s just dumb.

That said, if Dibble is telling the truth then this entire situation is ridiculous. A father of one of the younger players got his feelings hurt so he wrote an e-mail to the team’s owner to get him kicked off air? Oh, brother. Is Strasburg’s father going to write an angry letter to every person who criticizes his son over his career? Because if he writes in to TSR, I’ll delete. I swear to God I’ll delete it.

Dibble is a loudmouth with little or no tact, but he shouldn’t have been let go for speaking his mind (regardless of whether you think he was wrong to tell Strasburg to “suck it up” or not). I mean, that’s what MASN paid him for, right? You don’t hire Rob freaking Dibble to sit there like Monte from the “Major League” movies and you certainly don’t fire him for being brash. Again: He’s Rob Dibble.

This isn’t high school athletics and millionaire players (or their fathers for that matter) shouldn’t be protected from the stinging words of the big bad media.

Strasburg starts light throwing, may return in September

Washington Nationals’ pitcher Stephen Strasburg pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning at Nationals Park on August 15, 2010. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Stephen Strasburg has begun some light throwing, which is the first positive sign in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

Strasburg made the short tosses in Southern California, where he is rehabbing from ligament-replacement surgery, which he underwent Sept. 3. Making his first light throws now, a week before spring training, means Strasburg remains on schedule on his 12- to 18-month road back to the majors.

While recovery time varies from pitcher to pitcher, Zimmermann’s experience sheds some light on when Strasburg may make his next major league appearance. The Nationals treated Zimmermann with extreme caution, and he made his first post-surgery appearance in the majors Aug. 26 last year, about 121/2 months following his August 2009 surgery. Since Strasburg underwent his surgery Sept. 3, he could feasibly return in the middle of September, at the very end of this season.

I’ve read the comments sections of various media outlets and some fans are predicting that Strasburg is the next Kerry Wood or Mark Prior. They say he’s over-hyped and won’t ever fully recover from the surgery.

To those people I would say this: If you’re a true baseball fan, then knock it off. You have the right to your opinion but let’s hope that this kid makes a full recovery because he’s great for the game. Sports need young stars like Strasburg to shine and it’s unfortunate that he’s suffered a bad fate early on. Hey, maybe he is the next Kerry Wood but let’s not wish it.

Thanks to the steroid era, baseball was ruined for almost a decade. Now that it has climbed out of the wreckage, the sport needs its young pitching stars to stay healthy. Baseball got a new lease on life and let’s hope that last season wasn’t just an anomaly.

Here’s hoping Strasburg makes a full and speedy recovery.

Strasburg likely to have Tommy John surgery, Nationals clearly cursed

Washington Nationals' pitcher Stephen Strasburg reacts in the dugout during the fourth inning against the Florida Marlins' at Nationals Park in Washington on August, 10 2010.  UPI/Kevin Dietsch Photo via Newscom

In the young history of the Washington Nationals franchise, the club has never had a winning season, has never come close to a playoff berth and has never finished above fourth place in the NL East.

When the Nats drafted phenom Stephen Strasburg with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft, there was suddenly hope on the horizon. And actually with the way the team had been compiling young talent in previous years, Strasburg only cemented the hope that was already there.

You know the rest. When Strasburg was called up earlier this season, he dazzled fans and flustered big league hitters with his outstanding stuff. He got hurt, came back, and then got hurt again.

Now GM Mike Rizzo admits that the young pitcher likely needs Tommy John surgery to repair a significant UCL tear in his pitching elbow. I could go into details, but why bother? The biggest takeaway is that Strasburg’s rookie season is over and it’s very likely that his 2011 campaign is done too, well before it had the chance to start.

It’s a massive blow for a franchise that doesn’t deserve any more sports heartache. Last August, Jordan Zimmermann (who was the team’s top pitching prospect before Strasburg came along) also had to undergo elbow reconstruction surgery and it took him a little over a year to return. Now Nats’ fans have to deal with Strasburg’s injury, just months after the club drafted another phenom in outfielder Bryce Harper.

The future is still very bright in Washington, as Strasburg will eventually come back and Harper will eventually be called up. But considering fans will have to continue to remain patient before seeing these two potential stars play together is a shame.

Whose dog did owner Ted Lerner kick for all the bad luck that this club has had to endure over the years?

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