In defending Washington Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo’s resolve to shut down staff ace Stephen Strasburg early in what would’ve been his first full season since Tommy John surgery, the most often used arguments have been littered with references to the supposed due diligence with which the team’s front office came to their decision.

We’ve been quick to point out that the Nationals relied on data from previous instances of Tommy John surgery rehabilitation, measured the effect of increases in work loads on rehabbing pitchers and investigated the likelihood of re-injury. Perhaps even more importantly, it’s been suggested that the team has been in constant consultation with Dr. Lewis Yocum who performed Mr. Strasburg’s surgery.

You best find a school desk to hide under, because I’ve got a bombshell for you.

According to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Yocum hasn’t spoken with Mr. Rizzo since last year, and hasn’t been in contact with Mr. Strasburg since Spring Training. Boom. Furthermore, there are no studies or statistics that Dr. Yocum is aware of that would suggest an innings limit is necessary. In fact, it’s Mr. Rizzo who set his own standard by limiting Jordan Zimmerman’s innings last season, to great results this year.

All of this isn’t to suggest that Dr. Yocum wouldn’t advise in favor of shutting Mr. Strasburg down or even that Mr. Rizzo didn’t come to his decision without much thought, it merely causes one to go back to our earlier presupposing which had been interrupted by Mr. White imitations asking if we were indeed doctors.

Of course this shouldn’t really be surprising to us. As much as we might desire all encompassing directions that will lead us to solutions for the problems we face, there is never such a thing.

It’s based on Mike’s experience. Mike is extremely confident. His track record speaks for itself. Zimmermann did extremely well. If there was a guarantee, everybody would be doing it right now,” Yocum said. “You just don’t know. This may be the beginning of a trend.

So, case closed, right? I guess we all misunderstood connotations that weren’t necessarily denotations. It happens.

Oh hey, here comes Mr. Strasburg’s agent Scott Boras. What does he have to say?

I know from the discussion I’ve had with the Nationals that there has been repeated communication between the Nationals’ doctor and Dr. Yocum,” Boras said. “There was a conversation between Dr. Yocum and Rizzo sometime in August.

Insert Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor simian sound effect here. So, what the comments from Mr. Boras presuppose is maybe the Nationals did consult with Dr. Yocum throughout the process.

To my knowledge, there was a discussion with Dr. Yocum and other orthopedic surgeons involved. We’re all relying on doctors here. How can we not rely on doctors?

So, while it may appear as though either Dr. Yocum or Mr. Boras are lying to the media, there are several additional options: Dr. Yocum could’ve been misquoted/misunderstood; Mr. Rizzo could’ve been misunderstood when he spoke with Mr. Rizzo; or maybe Mr. Rizzo merely confused former reliever Heathcliff Slocumb with Dr. Yocum.

Or maybe it’s something that we can’t even imagine:


The story, as it exists right now, has no clear conclusion, much like the issue it surrounds. That seems to make the majority of us somewhat uncomfortable, but before we look to find comfort in jumping to conclusions, let’s wait and see what emerges, which is probably the best approach to most things in life, including Mr. Strasburg’s use.

Comments (5)

  1. What would the world be like without MS Paint?

  2. 56′ is wrong. Last time the Dodgers played at Yankee Stadium was in 80′.

  3. I always thought it was odd that they kept quoting research showing that pitchers coming back from TJ needed to have an innings limit. I had never heard of such research. Intuitively it does make sense to have an innings limit but I’m not sure that we should trust decisions like this to intuition. I’ll be curious to see if this does start a trend (much like the very flawed Verducci research)

  4. I can’t believe all this actually happened the way it did. A pitcher needs to be used conservatively first year post-op but this situation was f’d from the beginning.

  5. I’m not sure constant consultation with the doctor in itself is particularly useful, anyway. He would likely need diagnostic tools to have any idea how well Strasburg’s arm was holding up.

    And, any data about TJS comebacks is virtually anecdotal: talk about small sample sizes, there is no where near enough data on pitcher’s recovery to be much use, and I’d seriously wonder if the data could be aggregated and retain meeting, as pitchers are different physically and they did not all follow the same recovery-regiments.

    Strasburg’s case is one of being cautious because being cautious definitely improves the likelihood he’ll stay healthy. By how much? That’s entirely speculative.

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