Hoping to return, Strasburg throws off mound

Hoping to return, Strasburg throws off mound

WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg threw a bullpen session on Friday afternoon at Nationals Park, his first time throwing off the mound since he left a game against the Braves on Sept. 7 with a forearm injury. He threw about 25 pitches, all fastballs and changeups, and he came off the mound feeling good.

Although Strasburg said he did not throw at 100 percent intensity, it was an encouraging sign for the Nationals hours before they were set to begin Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers (5:30 p.m. ET. on FS1). If Washington can advance past the NLDS, Strasburg is aiming to join them.

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 7 LAD 4, WAS 3 video
Gm 2 Oct. 9 WSH 5, LAD 2 video
Gm 3 Oct. 10 WAS 8, LAD 3 video
Gm 4 Oct. 11 LAD 6, WAS 5 video
Gm 5 Oct. 13 LAD 4, WSH 3 video

"I keep telling myself that," Strasburg said. "That's why I didn't shut it down. So I'm working hard every single day to hopefully be in a position to pitch, but I can't speculate on that at this point. This was the first day I threw off a mound, and it felt good, so I'm just going to take that and focus on the next time I get on the mound."

Strasburg also offered up some clarity on his injury, which initially was diagnosed as a strained flexor mass in his right arm. He said Friday that he had a partial tear in his pronator tendon with some weakness in his flexor mass.

"The flexor mass connects to it," he said. "There could have been a strain in there, but that was kind of the sensation I had the last time I pitched -- [it] was kind of lower in here. That's where the tendon connects to the flexor mass that I was battling through for a little bit."

Strasburg received a platelet-rich plasma injection to help the injury heal faster, and he did not throw for a week. He said he started to feel normal after that period. Strasburg has spent much of the past few weeks playing light catch and throwing off flat ground, a program built by the Nationals' team doctors. Strasburg also consulted Dr. Neal ElAttrache for a second opinion.

Even though Friday was a significant step, there might not be enough time for Strasburg to build back up as a starter to return this postseason. His next bullpen session is scheduled for Monday. With Hurricane Matthew in Florida, the Nationals ended their instructional league early, which is likely where Strasburg would have gone to face hitters.

"To be honest, I don't really look too far ahead," Strasburg said. "I'm sure [the Nationals] are probably looking at that. But I think for my career and the next seven years hopefully with this ball club, I just want to be right, and hopefully the program gets me right in some capacity while we're still playing. But I can't look that far ahead. I think I just got to keep staying the course and not do something silly that will maybe give me a setback."

If the Nationals can get Strasburg back, it would be a huge addition to the top of their rotation alongside Max Scherzer and Tanner Roark. But for now, Washington begins its second postseason run without Strasburg, just as the club did in 2012, when it shut him down after he reached his innings limit.

"The first time was weird, because I didn't know any better, and I wasn't hurt," Strasburg said. "This is, from a personal standpoint, this is tough to not be out there and compete with the guys.

"But I got to put the personal side away and be a good cheerleader, at least for now, and have a lot of confidence that they're going to get the job done. Hopefully I'll be ready to go when it's my turn."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.