- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 10, 2016

With time running against him, the steps for Stephen Strasburg are incremental.

After being removed from his start Wednesday in the top of the third inning because of a strained flexor mass, the right-handed starter has begun his recovery process. He had a platelet-rich-plasma injection Friday in the affected area. He feels better, though is unsure when he will pitch again.

“As far as pain or sensitivity, that’s pretty much subsided,” Strasburg said.

Nationals trainer Paul Lessard said Thursday that he was focused on Strasburg’s first four or five days of recovery after an MRI showed his ulnar collateral ligament was not injured, but instead he was dealing with a flexor strain.

The PRP injection is used to expedite recovery in an injured area. Strasburg’s blood was drawn, then went through a separation process to produce a plasma-rich portion. That was injected into Strasburg’s area of pain.

As odd as it may be to view being shut down and receiving an injection as positive news, that’s just what it was for Strasburg. He had his UCL repaired in 2010 by Tommy John surgery. The fear Wednesday was that he may have torn the ligament again, which likely would have put him out of baseball for at least a year.

“It was about as good as news as you could get,” Strasburg said. “I’m just trying to take it one day at a time now and do everything I can to get back out there not only as fast as possible, but feeling right at the same time.”

Those watching were not the only ones concerned about a UCL issue. Strasburg said he felt pain starting the third inning, then over and over with each pitch. The pain from his 42nd pitch confirmed he should stop throwing.

“It was a little alarming to me,” Strasburg said.

A second doctor is looking at Strasburg’s MRI. Strasburg will wait for that doctor’s assessment before he decides to go for a second examination. At this point, he is doing the worked allowed in the weight room and waiting. Asked if he feels in his heart that he will be available in October, he was unsure.

“I can’t make that claim,” Strasburg said. “There’s still pretty much a month left in the season. I’m just trying to get back healthy and hopefully when we’re still playing baseball.”

Strasburg was on the disabled list twice last season. He was on it twice more this season. His last start was his first since being placed on the disabled list because of “elbow soreness” on Aug. 22. He has a heightened familiarity with downtime because of injuries.

“Unfortunately, this has happened to me so many times, it’s like, I could just sit here and let it eat at me, which I’ve done in the past and it doesn’t make it any better,” Strasburg said. “It’s the cards I’ve been dealt. I’m just trying to stay positive. Learn from it and work even harder.”

Though Strasburg is in a prolonged stall, the starting rotation did receive some good news Saturday. Joe Ross, who has been on the disabled list since July 3 because of shoulder inflammation, threw 60 pitches in a simulated game. He said afterward he felt well and could throw 80 pitches the next time he is asked to pitch.

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